Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Head to Toe" -- Part Two (Pig's Head)


Well, hello there.

And hello to all of you who found your way over here from the Wall Street Journal. Boy, are you in for a treat.

It's time.

Time for me to tell you about what has been equally the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life. Oh yes, kids. This is bigger than just making a braised, stuffed pig's head. There's a whole other layer to this story that I haven't really talked or written about publicly. But it's time, because it's pretty damn cool and I'm incredibly proud of it. Full disclaimer: I made this dish back in early March, and for reasons you'll see as the story unfolds, I haven't been able to post about it until now. But I think you'll be excited about the reasons why as well as the final result (at least I hope you will), because you guys have been so amazingly supportive up until this point, why quit now? Seriously though, I can't wait to share this with you... it's been killing me not to. So, here we go.

Me and my pig's head? We cut a demo for a TV show.

I KNOW! Cool, right?

Back in January, the head of development at JWM Productions got in touch with me to see if I might be interested in pursuing something with them. After calling a bunch of my friends to see which one of them was playing this practical joke, I realized he was the real deal. So, we got together over coffee and got to know one another. I have to admit I was hesitant at first, because as a media and PR consultant, it's always been my job to put my clients on camera while I stay in the background. I've done some on-camera work before, but nothing like this, so I wasn't 100% confident that I'd be any good at it. However, they were willing to move forward pitching a TV series with me, so I thought to myself, "they're the experts and if they didn't vomit when they saw me or think I'm a bumbling idiot, then I guess I should give it a shot."

A few weeks later, three handsome gentlemen from JWM -- Aziz (the head of development), Patrick and Neil (who ultimately became my production crew) -- came over to my house for a meeting to talk about what a demo might look like and what show ideas we might want to pitch to which networks. We ended up spending a fair amount of time in my attic (which seems bizarre, but actually made sense at the time) looking through the hundreds of vintage cookbooks I own, tossing ideas around and trying to figure out what we might want to do.

They wrote up a treatment for some pitch meetings they had the following week. There was interest in one of the ideas, so we worked on an outline for a demo. We went back and forth on what I should cook and what the story would be, and at one point, we all came to the same conclusion: it had to be the pigs' head. So, I outlined the process, they came up with a production schedule, and shooting began.

I got the pig's head from Forrest Pritchard, who runs Smith Meadows Farm. I've mentioned Smith Meadows before because they're my regular meat and egg vendor at the farmers' market in town. I called Forrest ahead of time to order the pig's head so he'd have it ready for us on the Sunday we began the shoot. And away we go......

Let's take another look at the pig's head to get everything started:



This is a dish in The French Laundry Cookbook that is written about in more narrative form, so I'm going to do my best to break it down into the steps the book provides (in the order it provides them, as well) and show you photos as we go, so if you want to try and do this dish, you can. These photos are stills pulled out of the video footage, so credit goes to JWM Productions. The italicized text below is from The French Laundry Cookbook; my commentary is in regular type.

1. Cut off ears and reserve. (Note: pigs' ears have hair on them, so it's best to shave off that hair before removing and then dicing the ears. Someone suggested burning the hair off, but I think that might actually smell worse than that freakin' tripe, so I stuck to shaving).


2. Split the skin and meat down the center of the head, beginning at the top and working around the snout and to the back of the head to split the skull down the middle. Then, beginning on one side of the head, run the knife along the contour of the head, following the bone structure, to remove the skin and the attached meat.

Here's where the fun really begins. Splitting a pig's skull? Wow. Really? There's also text in the book about how to make sure you get the cheek meat and the meat at the temple. This is the point at which I went back and consulted all the notes and research I'd done on this process (nerd alert!), as well as the people I'd talked to who'd done this dish (or a version of it) before. The consensus was that the best way for an amateur like me to be able to see where all the good bits are and be able to get the most meat off the face was to saw the entire head in half and cut the face off each side, one half at a time. So, that's what I did. (Note: If you're going to try this dish, your butcher will do the sawing-the-head-in-half part for you, and I highly recommend letting him This is not easy. Not at all. Especially when you have a crap saw and even your power tools couldn't really do the job neatly or easily.)


Because I deviated from the book's exact instructions at this point (and because I'd never done this dish before and was bound to make mistakes), I ended up with two large flaps of face meat and the cheek meat separately. I also removed the tongue (which was an unpleasant-sounding step) and set it aside to use in a little while. Let me take a moment here to bow down to anyone who has ever done this before, or who does this kind of butchering or boning-out on a regular basis. This was incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and honestly, really gross. the worst part was when... no, I can't tell you this.... can I? No..... wait..... yes, I have to. I was going to spare you this particularly gory detail, but I just can't: I had to reposition the pig's head at one point to get a better grasp on it while I was cutting the meat off the head, and accidentally jammed my thumb through one of the eye sockets. With the eye still in it. No, I wasn't wearing gloves. Yes, I'll wait while you run to the bathroom to throw up.

3. Lay out the piece of pig, skin side down ... Trim off the fat until you reach the meat. Run a knife along the skin and remove [it] from the meat ... (much as you would skin a fish fillet). I did this, and also trimmed away all the other bits and pieces that were not meat-like in any way, leaving only the thin layer of very white fat, which I then scored. I also trimmed the meat side of the face, scored that, and pounded it as flat as I could, then salt and peppered it.

I should note here that we're still on Day One of this little project -- we began filming around 9:30 a.m. at the Farmers' Market, and this pig prep continued well into the night. I think I finished around 1 a.m.

At this point, I also diced the pig's ear and put it, along with the face and cheek meat into the refrigerator.



Monday morning (on just 3 or 4 hours' sleep), I woke up extra early to get the pig's tongue braised so that we'd be ready to shoot the rest of the prep once it came out of the oven. So, before the sun rose or the newspaper hit the front porch, and while most decent people were still in bed, I put a pig's tongue in a Le Creuset pot along with some mirepoixed onions, carrots and leeks, as well as some garlic, thyme, kosher salt, chicken stock, water, and white wine vinegar. I brought it to a simmer on the stovetop, then braised it for four hours in a 300-degree oven.

When it was finished, I brought it out, scraped off the tastebuds and skin, and cut the tongue meat into small batons.

4. Arrange batons of cooked tongue, sweetbreads, and diced pig's ear over the meat. Roll the head in plastic wrap to shape it (as you would a torchon), then remove the piece, roll it, and tie it in cheesecloth.

I laid the two pieces of face meat on the cutting block and put the cheek meat, diced ear meat, and tongue meat onto it, rolled it tight using plastic wrap (which I removed once I had used it to help roll everything up), then wrapped the meat roll in some cheesecloth, which I bundled nice and tight.


I put the meat into the pot with chicken stock, water, carrots, onions, leeks, bay leaves, thyme and parsley, covered the pot with foil and put it in a 300-degree oven for 6 hours.

After six hours of braising, I removed it from the pot, unwrapped it, rewrapped it in fresh cheesecloth, and let it hang in the fridge for 24 hours.



The next day, Tuesday, I removed it from its hanging place in the fridge, and was supposed to unwrap it, slice it, bread it, and sauté it. Just before the guys got there to shoot this segment, I had a mild panic attack. What if it all fell apart? What if it crumbled or fell apart into chunks when I unwrapped it from the cheesecloth? What if it was a complete and total disaster, and all that work up until this point for was naught? Would I have to start all over from the beginning? Would we improvise and figure out another end result? Where the hell was I gonna find another pig's head on such short notice? Was I a total hack? Who let me do this? Who decided this was a good idea? Who do I think I am? AAAAAAUGHHHHHHHH!!!!

I made myself some coffee, ate breakfast, and talked myself off the ledge. The guys arrived, and we got to work. I held my breath as I cut the string that held it in place in the fridge, unwrappped it ever so slowly and gently, almost having an out-of-body experience as I drifted above myself and watched it all unfold on the cutting board below:

As you can see, it stayed intact after being unwrapped. But, would it stay together when I sliced it into medallions to bread and sauté?

WAAAAAAAAAAAA-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Listen, I know I'm a big dork and YOU know I'm a big dork, so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I actually got a little choked up when this ACTUALLY WORKED. And, if you have The French Laundry Cookbook and can see the photo of this step in the book, you'll see that mine actually, kinda, sorta resembles the one in the book.

I brushed the medallions with Roland Dijon mustard (my favorite brand), dredged them in breadcrumbs, and sautéed them in a little canola oil:

I'd made the Sauce Gribiche earlier in the day -- shallots, capers, cornichons, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, tarragon, parsley and chives (photos are mine, not production stills; the crappier quality should be a dead giveaway):



To plate the final dish, I put the meat on top of the sauce and brought it to the table. Here's a shot of my new friend, Katrina (you'll meet her in a minute), eating the dish:

This is one of the best things I've ever eaten. The pork was tender and delicious, and you could taste the subtle differences in texture of the different kinds of meat, but when it all came together it was amazing. It was almost creamy in its consistency, yet still had a meat-like texture. It was smooth and tender and the sauce complemented the dish like nothing I could have imagined. I'd make that sauce again even if I was just making pork tenderloin or a pork loin roast (or even just plain old pork chops, I suppose).

Knowing the amount of work that went into this whole pig head extravaganza, I had prepared myself not to be too disappointed in case it turned out to be a somewhat mediocre dish. But you know what? It was really, really good. The meat was cooked to perfection, the sauce was incredible, and I was so tired and giddy but completely honest when I said, "I can't believe I'm actually going to say this but I think I might actually do this again someday. It's THAT good."

I meant it then, and I mean it now. But someone else is going to have to debone the pig's head for me next time. That's one step of this process I have no interest in repeating.

Looking back, the thought of making the dish was scary enough, but adding the "hey, we don't care if you've never made this before -- let's shoot it as you go and show it to a bunch of programming executives who might ultimately have a major impact your future career path" made this all the more surreal. It was exhausting, grueling, labor-intensive, frustrating, stressful, exciting, hilarious, beyond challenging, and ultimately, something I'm incredibly proud of. I wish there was a bigger, more impactful word than proud, because that's how I feel about the final product. This dish was the best thing I've ever cooked, and the resulting footage told a great story and was an amazing learning experience.

Oh yeah, about that footage. You wanna see it? Good. 'Cause I want you to. Here's the four-minute demo JWM Productions put together. Unfortunately, they had to strip some of the music for it to be posted here; sorry 'bout that. Dang rights and clearance issues. Just whistle along during the quiet parts. Hope you like it!


In Over Her Head (Carol Blymire) from Carol Blymire on Vimeo.


I can't end this post without thanking Aziz, Patrick, Neil, Justin, Jess, Brian, and the rest of the JWM team for making this happen. And, a special thanks to Jason Williams and Bill Morgan, without whom there would be no JWM.

So, there you have it. A delicious braised, stuffed pig's head, and a humble, grateful writer thinking it actually might be kinda cool to make the leap from your laptop to the TV screen. Why?
Well, doing this blog has pushed me in new directions I never thought possible and has deepened and intensified my passion for food and cooking far more than I ever could have hoped or imagined. So, if I can share the reward of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone -- truly getting in over your head when trying new things -- and inspire even one person to challenge him- or herself in the kitchen, then it's all worth it to me.

So, stay tuned.... I'll keep you posted on where this all ends up, and who knows? Maybe someday you can set your TiVo to record me. Wouldn't that be awesome? Fingers crossed...

# # #

Up Next: French Laundry at Home Extra: Brioche

Resources:
Pig’s head from
Smith Meadows Farm
Sauce Gribiche ingredients from
Whole Foods

Music to Cook By:
Perry Como; Magic Moments. This was the tune playing on the original video while I was prepping the pig's head. I find myself whistling this song quite a bit these days. Totally addictive.

Read My Previous Post:
"Head to Toe" -- Part One (Pig's Feet)

111 comments:

Sally Forth said...

Bravo! Really, really fabulous!

JordanBaker said...

This is all so exciting. . .and it would be even more exciting if I wasn't having total Lord of the Flies flashbacks from that first picture.

Shannon said...

I don't know if my husband would appreciate me using his saw to cut into a giant pig's head....or how he'd feel about me doing it at all, LOL.

I'm relieved that the recipe turned out to be a good one with all the work involved.

How do these chefs invent these recipes??

Luke said...

Congratulations on demo and for having the gumption to hand saw a pigs head in half. I don't think I could pull off either of those. If you end up needing a studio audience, we are in DC and willing to travel and maybe even do some dishes.

spooneroonie said...

The more I watch the video, the less it squicks me out, and the more I love it. Katrina is such a good sport, and her daughter is adorable.

Such a waster of a good tote bag, though. You did burn that thing, didn't you?

Aubrey said...

Carol - You are made for TV, dear. You have just the sense of humor, and of the ridiculous, to make it work, and you are cuter than a bug's ear!!! (Or is that a pig's ear???) I have enjoyed your blog tremendously (found from Ruhlman, I think) - keep up the good work!!

Mary Coleman said...

Wow. That was very cool. You'll have a show. It's a given.
The shot of Trina's daughter was a hoot and so were you.
Great job. Well done.

Christine said...

That's so awesome! Great job cutting the head in half...I definitely would have made someone else do it!
By the way, do you go to the Silver Spring farmers market? I'm from DC, but am still finishing up my school year in Chicago, and watching the video has made me so excited to finish up for the summer so I have the time/energy to go to all the different DC-area farmers markets as much as possible!

Gloria said...

OMG, who is that Elle Macpherson lookalike with the saw, cutting open that pig head?!

Seriously, congratulations on the possible TV thing! What a terrific opportunity (for us!) :)

Also, I'd like to say this may be the grossest thing you've ever posted about! Gross, but interesting, in a "did-you-see-that-horrific-accident-I-wonder-if-anyone-lost-a-limb" sort of way. If I'd have put my finger through the eye of the pig, I think I would have yakked right then and there. You have an iron stomach, my dear.

Thanks again for an entertaining post!

Mike said...

Damn girl.... if Food Network put YOU on TV, I'd actually start watching them again.

Anonymous said...

Carol,

Your video is terrific! As much as I love reading your blog - because it is funny and engaging - the video was all that and more! I'll keep my fingers crossed that you head to the Food Network - they could use you!

Susan

Calum C said...

That was awesome, its slightly confusing that i can see you now, instead of just reading, but it was really good. Have you considered doing a clotilde and give up the day job?

Andy said...

Wow. Very well done. I am impressed. And congrats on the tv show.

Krysta said...

I was okay reading about the thumb through the eyeball but actually watching you cut the pigs head in half after just waking up... was a whole different ball game.I ran to the bathroom, I don't think a food blog has ever made me do that. Good job and what a great video. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Tara said...

Wow, that pigs head is something I don't think I could handle. Brava!

Congrats on the demo! I'm totally rooting for you to have a show. You'd be great on TV.

the italian dish said...

YOU ROCK!! How exciting for you! It must have been hard to keep this under wraps this long. I love the title "In Over Her Head". You were great in it. Best of luck.

french tart said...

congrats! on both sawing through the piggy head and the demo.

RT said...

Fantastic!!! Even a Romanian judge would give you a 10 for this, and the added degree of difficulty for doing it while auditioning is incredible. The "Ms Blymire's Neighborhood" feel was so nice and warm,and the dish looks great. And you were as charming as we all suspected you would be. Thank you for sharing it with us and good luck on the show thing.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous. Wow. Stunning. I've been reading your blog from the outset and this event put me over the edge to post. I would watch your show with anticipation. Good luck.

Meghan said...

You're so great on camera! Really natural. And now when I read your posts, I'll have a much more accurate "voice" in my head. Thanks for sharing.

amber said...

how unbelievably exciting! seeing as how you've already inspired me (and i'm sure many other people who read this blog) to push themselves in the kitchen, i can only imagine the impact you could have on a wider audience. a huge congrats to you and i'll be checking the tv schedule for a new show to dvr, hopefully soon? ;)

M:L said...

You are totally my new hero!!! I'm serious...not that I'd make a pig's head, I would eat it, though) but it is really inspiring to see how absolutely brave you are and that perhaps I, too, could have such an adventure...

And I would watch you anytime...you have a great presence and your wit really comes through!

Chef Andrew Little said...

Finally, the prospect of watching some real cooking on TV again. Good luck on the pilot....I hope someone picks up the show so that folks can stop watching 'Semi-homemade, thirty minute, quick fix meals' and start to get back in touch with their food. As you have demonstrated, it is so rewarding to take a fantastic raw product and make it into something extraordinary. Great food takes time.....congrats on the post.

Aaron said...

That's great! I wish you luck with your demo. I'd love to tune in to see that someone else also prays to the kitchen gods also. ("Please stay together, please!"

Max Fill said...

This is just fantastic! You seem like such a natural on camera. This is so much better than anything on any food show on TV now. Who saws a pig's head?! Congratulations!

cook eat FRET said...

you're a force and i'm so proud of you.

well, there'll now be one reason to watch the FN...

you go girl. i'll be your biggest fan.

Tom said...

Smart, funny, AND you're hot? You're a natural for TV. You seem so real and approachable, and not a manufactured demo bunny. I'd watch your show, for sure...

spooneroonie said...

Another thought: how did you get rid of the waste? I mean, if I were to do something like this and I tossed the skull and excess....pig matter INto my regular garbage, I'd have the CSI people on my doorstep within the hour.

What did you have to do with all of that stuff?

Heather said...

Wow. That's all I can say - wow. I'm really impressed with your dedication here. I've handled a lot of dead animals in the name of good food: I've cleaned fish, I've deboned chicken and even field dressed deer... but the thought of sawing a pig head in half would stop me cold. My hat's off to you Carol!

Sweetie Darling said...

So cool!!The show, I mean. And the success of the head, especially in light of the feet. Can't wait to hear where this adventure leads you.

bristlesage said...

Wow. Everything about this was great. The final result looks like an absolute Plate Licker, and I'm so happy for you and your new fun!

sd-b said...

carol - you are one brave lady. just looking at the pig's head and feet make me sick. i'm okay reading about it though. great job with the demo - you are a born natural!

glad the pig's head dish turned out a jillion times better than the feet.

Natty said...

I've long liked you but now I think I love you.

I would have given that pig's a big kiss on the cheek.

It's so funny to hear your voice! I'm glad you don't sound like Ina Garten... am I the only one who thinks she sounds drugged? But I would totally go to one of her creepy parties on the beach.

That poor girl in the hardware store! I love it. Seriously, this is like Myth Busters meets No Reservations. "Thank you for not throwing up on me!"

I want more!!!

e.nassar said...

Big fat congrats Carol, for making this amazing, challenging and delicious dish and for the Demo of course!! The closest I've made to this is the pork trotters from Bouchon, also boned, rolled poached, breaded and served with gribiche.
It's also great putting a face and voice to the name and blog. Best of luck to you.

Megan said...

You are simply adorable.

Blushing hostess said...

Carol. Ah, awesome (?!), you are far braver than I. I have put your blog up as the Special Mention Blog read of the week at Blushing Hostess. How could this mighty event go unrecognized by your community?! Catherine, The Blushing Hostess

p.s. I read the pig's head theft thing in the Zuni Cookbook with a shudder, but you took it to a whole new level...

Chris Furniss said...

congratulations. Your blog has pushed me to somehow be even more proactive with my own culinary predilections, and I really hope you get your chance to make awesome TV. Your blog is one of the most entertaining I've ever read. Cheers!

E said...

Spectacular! I loved the video. You are very brave, I could not have gone there, I would have paid the butcher to do all the cutting and separating.
Good luck on this endeavor!

Juliet said...

I loved loved loved the video! I can't wait for your show to premiere...please do keep us posted. Congratulations!

I also must say it's great to hear your voice. Now when I read your blog, I have a face and voice to put with the words. Fantastic!

Anthony said...

This seemed like an incredibly unlikely choice for your "audition" tape. What was your point of view behind this selection, vs, say, something a bit more mainstream? Was this a purely conscious decision, based on the show concept, or was this simply where you were in your TFL cooking schedule? I'll take my answer off the air :)

Stefan Llewellyn Smith said...

Fantastic.

You should remind JWM that it's "tête de porc". The circumflex accent came out OK though. They did a good job.

You're a natural on TV. Good luck if that's where your path takes you.

Jennifer said...

Oh my God, finger through the eye socket with the eyeball still intact! I am definitely making this dish, but having my butcher do the sawing part as to avoid the finger eyeball event. Congrats on the potential TV gig. Maybe you can boot annoying Rachael ray off the air and bring some real cooking back to television. One question though, "Will you have a shrine to TK on your set?"

jgunnink said...

Congratulations! Having a cooking show based in D.C. would be so fantastic. The format is really compelling, given that most of us don't have ready access to high end ingredients without tracking them down like you do. I know Michael Chiarello's kitchen is stocked with several hundred dollars worth of fresh produce daily, but the average cook isn't that lucky. Also I think your show would be a welcome comedic respite on Food Network, because the only ones on there who make me laugh are Alton Brown and the Ace of Cakes. You would instantaneously join them on my TiVo list if this works out. Best of luck!

matt wright said...

Completely awesome. Talk about a crazy amount of work. Words cannot honestly describe how impressed I am that you did you dish, and it looks like it turned out bloody fabulous.

I cannot wait to hear if this all gets turned into a TV show.

Sassy said...

Congrats!!!!! I've been reading yout trials and tribulations here almost since you started this project and I have to say, now having seen you on camera, that I'm even more convinced you're incredible. To even attempt a pig's head recipe on camera for a demo takes massive... um... guts, but to completely rock it like that is fabulous! And seriously, the video is a total gem. The hardware store clerk's face when you open the bag is totally priceless, as is the little girl's face at the end, and you did a GREAT job on camera. I'd watch your show any day.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - very few impress me (seriously - EVERY recipe in the whole darn book?) or make me laugh out loud like yours does. But I kid you not - just as I started perusing your pig head entry, I took the first bite of my chicken salad sandwich...after a few stomach turning moments, I recovered and continued reading another fabulous entry (sans lunch)! Lurker Cathy

Rashena said...

Girl, you better than me cause there ain't no fuckin WAY!!!! I don't know if I even want to watch the vid, but as always the finished result is beautiful and I'm so glad you are sharing this with us.

Rashena said...

Okay, I saw the video. It was GREAT! Not nearly as bad, and the little girl surely expressed my sentiments.

Good luck with the show, I'd watch and DVR it faithfully! It's really cool to see how your energy in your posts carries right over to seeing you in action.

Anonymous said...

Carol, you are kind of a babe.


-Sean

Sarah said...

Congrats!!! I am so excited for you :)

And thrilled that the pig's head turned out so well, this post almost makes me want to try it at home...well almost.

queenofsheba said...

Wahoo You!! I know I'm being redundant here, but great looking food, and congrats to you~! I guess we can forgive you for making this in early March and not telling us...
... also I totally understand about the Twizzlers.

Anonymous said...

So, I finally figured out what it is about your video that I like so much -- it's that you're real. Who you are on there is exactly who you are on here... and none of it is fake. It's hotness+nerdness+curiosity+approachability+aspirationalness(I know that's a made-up word) = you. It's really, really cool, and I hope there's a network bidding war over you. I'm part of that oft-written about young male demographic that advertisers so often covet. So if my opinion matters from that perspective, now you have it. Homerun, Carol. Good luck!

MrsVJW said...

I'm going to have to find a way to work "Thank you for not throwing up on me" in to regular conversation. A *lot*.

Loved the video, and hopefully something will come out of it (I personally will find it a crime if nothing comes of it!). Awesomeness.

And glad the recipe worked out!

Jessica said...

All thoughts of gloveless eye-gouging aside, that does look very yummy! Good luck with the TV possibilities.

Anonymous said...

I have loved your blog and have been a long time fan of your postings on TWP Sandra Lee pages. You inspire me to cook better, and I would much rather see you than Sandra anyday. And you don't even seem drunk honey

margalit said...

The ear shaving almost did me in. And the poke in the poor pig's eye? Truly disgusting. But even though I wouldn't ever eat pork (Kosher), it actually did look good.

Congrats on the whole TV thing. I'd watch you over ANY cook on TV. Any day, any time. You're one in a million!

pdxblogmommy said...

Ah....finally. Now it's confirmed by one and all that you are the queen of cool. Except for when you poke a dead pig's eye out. Then you're the queen of sir gagsalot. Fech. I don't need that picture stuck in my brain.

HOWEVER...I'd at least taste that because YOU cooked it. And because I love you.

Congratulations! :-) I'm glad everyone can share the pride I feel at this and all your other accomplishments leading up to this point (and well beyond I imagine).

Kitt said...

Wow. Just ... Wow.

Arundathi said...

you are just way too cool. i wish i hadn't moved back to india so that i could TiVo you when the show comes out! amazing job! i am a lurker too but i had to comment on this one!

Anonymous said...

A natural in front of the camera. really well done!

Hank said...

Brilliant. Your video is at least as good as your blog. I'd look forward to watching the show just as much as I look forward to your next post. Great job, and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that you were quoted in the Wall Street Journal?!?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121193539466324749.html?mod=hps_us_inside_today

Congratulations on the demo! By the way, I love your blog!

Marysol said...

I've been your fan for quite some time as well, and I am impressed beyond words...

...but when you decided to eat breakfast amidst the bloody chaos... and then the eye incident -oh!- made me forget my mantra.


I have just 5 words for you:


You are the Iron Chef!

rebeccascritchfield said...

Congrats Carol... last time I saw you I knew you were working on a project and this must be it. Way to go... I support you 1000% and I am sure you will be on t.v. soon enough! If you ever want to talk nutrition, you know who to call!

- Rebecca Scritchfield

Kathy aka the Minx said...

I just found your blog - seriously, you are a goddess! What a project to tackle, on camera yet! Very impressive, and I loved the video.

slush said...

So very cool! And as someone with a very thick stomach so to speak, this was almost too much for me. Kudos to you for not yakking on the spot. :)

Scott R said...

you might be the next queen of Food TV. Bravo!

David said...

This is freakin hilarious! Can't stop laughing...

David said...

Can I be your assistant? I won't hog the camera, I'm camera shy anyway but I'm very good with a chef's knife so I can prep all the innards of the pig!

Carol Blymire said...

Wow -- you guys are awesome. Thanks for all the sweet comments and kind words. It didn't dawn on me until after I'd posted this that none of you really knew what I looked or sounded like, or even what my tiny little kitchen looked like. And now you do. And you haven't vomited or anything. Excellent. I'm flattered by your compliments and truly moved by your support. You guys are the coolest. Much appreciated. Now, let me see if I can answer some of your questions --

Shannon: How do chefs invent these recipes? The pig's head has been done for thousands of years, and probably started with the Chinese. In fact, there's a chain of restaurants in mainland China that when translated is called "Baked Pig Face." I think I want to go there someday. :)

Spoonie: I wanted to burn that tote bag, but didn't. The pig was wrapped in plastic inside that bag, so the carnage was minimal. That's my market bag and it's kind of cool to me to carry it around knowing there was once a pig's head in it. And as for what I did with the skull once I removed the meat? Let's just say there's a dumpster in town that was on the receiving end of my culinary waste product. No sense in putting it in my garbage can and have the neighborhood raccoons drag it up and down the block.

Christine: I go to the market in Takoma Park. I've never been to the Silver Spring one, but I hear it's nice.

Calum: As long as there's a mortgage to pay, I need to keep my day job. If ever the opportunity comes my way to make a move in a new direction and the financial bit works itself out in that new arena, then I'm open to it. :)

Anthony: No need to be answered secretly -- I'm fine with sharing the decision-making process behind choosing the pig's head. #1 - it was up next on the schedule, and #2 - we knew it was a great story. It is the only dish in this book that truly put me in over my head, and to be able to pull it off was a complete surprise. We didn't expect it to go well at all, and when it did, I wondered whether or not we'd be able to make a good episode from the footage. I think it tells a great story of really taking a risk and being doubly rewarded when it goes well. TV has to educate, but nowadays it also has to be entertaining. And little old me doing a pig's head qualifies as hilarity ensuing, I do believe.

Jennifer: No shrine to TK, but believe me, NONE of this would have been possible without him and without his own risk-taking and dedication to the pursuit of perfection. He's my hero.

Rebecca: HI!!!!!!!

PDX: back atcha.

Becca said...

Carol, Loved the demo. It's going to be a very entertaining show. How much does a good pig head cost anyway?

Cathy said...

delurking to comment and say that this was pretty darned amazing -- go you! fingers crossed for you that this will turn into something even bigger. best wishes!

Eileen said...

O_O
I found your blog from Wall Street Journal.
I was shocked... seeing the pig head in the picture.
I didn't want to look but can't stop reading about how you "work" the head.
Can't believe the final result actually made me drool.
I can't wait for your TV show!

Hana Mi said...

my gosh so many posts.

I just had to post too, well done , really inspiring to just get on and do things and push yourself , Im very impressed. I just had to look away when the saw went in, sorreeeeeeeeeeee!!!

You are SO going to be on TV , shame Im all the way over in the UK , as we may not see it at all :( . Tell them UKTV food needs some new programmes! You are a natural in so many things ; wordsmith , cook and great sense of humour!

Love that you asked the hardware store girl to try it, a nice touch. My 2 yr old would so do what her girl did too!!! Too funny.

You go girl

Good luck to you

Hana Mi

Who Has Time To Cook? said...

Congratulations, Carol. The demo looks great. The pig's head turned out much better than I thought it could have. Good luck!
--Jean

Joey D'Antoni said...

Nice WSJ mention...

JoP in Omaha said...

Awesome -- from start to end! And a video to boot. Very cook indeed! I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of the story.

Congratulations!

Marcy said...

Awesome!! Thinking good thoughts for you

michelle @ TNS said...

oh my holy jesus.

i will never be able to look bacon in the eye again.

Anonymous said...

Top that Ruhlman!

Mel said...

This is incredible! You should be so proud, as we all are of you. Congrats and you totally deserve all this and what's to come :)

Laurence said...

Great video - you're a natural!

Hotter than Giada too, IMO.

Carol Blymire said...

Becca: We paid about $2.50/pound for the head, so somewhere around $25-ish.

Laurence: Why, I believe you made me blush. And of course, when I shared that comment wirh my brother on the phone just now, he said, "Oh my God you ARE NOT." Dick. ;)

Anonymous said...

You're cute!

JoP in Omaha said...

A question and a comment:

Question: How many dishes remain to be cooked and blogged? I know you're very near the end.

Comment: Given the every-growing interest in this blog (WSJ, for example!!!), I hope some publisher out there offers you a contract so that these blog entries can be compiled into book format. I refer to them when I tackle making FL dishes, and it would be ever so much more convenient to have them in a book.

Serge the Concierge said...

Congrats on Picking the Topic of Pig Head.

Just mentioned it on Serge the Concierge while suggesting the creation of fictional restaurants.

Serge
'The French guy from New Jersey'

J.T. said...

Wow, go away from the internet for a few days, and look what happens. You're blowing up!

The head is definitely on my list of things to try, but I really didn't have a grip on just how much work it was going to be - and from the looks of it I'd say it's not an insubstantial amount, eh! But really, if you are saying it's one of the best things you've ever eaten - that's quite an endorsement.

And hey - good luck with the TV thing - I'm going to set up the TiVo wish list with your name on it tonight!

suriel said...

So I've been just reading your awesome blog via the feed, but I had to pop in and say holy crap, what an awesome video! from one dork to another, well done =)

Anonymous said...

A couple of things: If you ever want to borrow some All-Clad Copper Core cookware, I've got some you can borrow. (Even the Dutch Oven and Roaster!)

But I'm sure they'll supply you with some once you get your show.

You couldn't get Fleetwood Mac's permission to use "Over My Head" for your show?

When you get finished with the French Laundry cookbook, why don't you tackle Bouchon?

That Mike Bloomberg (whoever *he* is) is one lucky man!

Theresa said...

You've outdone yourself - the bar has now been raised even higher. Loved the video. We anxiously await your show so we can be part of your studio audience. After all, we've been with you since the beginning of the project.

Jennstoi said...

You totally rock!!

Katrina's face when you opened the bag.... the ear shaving scene. Pure television gold.

I think I will cry when you come to the end of the book...
(sniff)

davidL said...

Aziz was handsome? So that explains that cleavage-baring blouse. You go girl!

Carol Blymire said...

Oh David, you have no idea. Three young, handsome men in your house for a few days? Gives a girl the vapors. ;)

Tempered Woman said...

I saw rumblings on Twitter but couldn't find anything when I searched for the news~ so happy to hear it confirmed! I love the video, the point of trying new things leads to finding new things and people around you and inside of yourself, a beautiful moment indeed and exactly how I feel about this blog~ kudos!

HOARFROST said...

Congratulations, Carol! You've coaxed me out of my sullen aversion to the exclamation point. I've been trying to figure out what I could possibly add to all these phenomenal responses--but can there ever be too much pig-love?
First, I have to say that this post was full of some of your all-time best still photos, from your knuckle-band-aid to the eerie view into an Annie Wilkesian fridge with its ominous, gauze-covered stump (shudder).
You translate so well to the other side of the camera--and look really comfortable there. Any network worth its sel will be salivating to host you.
I have to lapse a little further into Carol Blymire appreciation /social analysis to note that the laser-wit and good sportitude of your original appeal has now been joined by the fact that you have "it" on film. Somehow, you've pulled off being the whole, string-tied butcher's package--and garnered male appreciation without making other women want to come at your eyes with their thumbs. And THAT is a feat--to have such a camp of true, female supporters. Because, let's face it: no matter what we might say about "doing it for the team" all women secretly want Heidi Klum's marriage to fail and for her to trip repeatedly in public, and were smugly pleased when the press released those pictures of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt eating (gasp) CHEETOHS.
There's always a condition, when it comes to women cheering other womens' successes--but I can't find one for yours. You ARE a "special kind of nutjob" indeed. Rock on, Sister Christian!
I think your video hits the nail on the...tete.

Scott Deane said...

Excellent job on what has to be a challenging recipe! The end product looks so appetizing, it's an interesting contrast to the picture of the pig's head (something that doesn't scream "eat me"). Best of luck with your television endeavors, if the show is half as fun as your blog, you have a hit.

On a side note, your blog has inspired me to try many new and formely intimidating ingredients and recipes. Many thanks!

jim w. said...

wow. this is great news. the thought of having a cooking show on the food network that is worth watching again is almost too much for me. tvfn used to be my default, but there are only a couple of shows on there that i can even stomach anymore, and only alton's is about actual cooking.

you seem much better suited to pbs. that's where all the real cooking goes on anymore.

i LOVE having a voice to match up to the blog, tho. that's huge. and, interestingly, it is pretty much the one i had ascribed to you in my head. is that weird?

so, is "in over her head" the working title for the series or just for that pilot episode? works as an episode, obviously. but frankly, not so much for the series. because clearly, you are not.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

You are my hero..heroine....drug. This blog is my new addiction. Just fabulous.

I have this cookbook..but I've only read it..and thought about making one of the recipes.

Good luck on the show! You certainly deserve a show.

Kitchen Vixen said...

Oh. my. god. I don't know that I have the strength of stomach to take on a pig's head. I found you through the WSJ article, and now I have a few hours reading material that I'm very excited about...

melissa said...

I'm floored. I don't even know what to say except that I admire the hell outta you for doing that. And I'm sure, without a doubt, that it was delicious.

Congratulations on your accomplishments and recognition. So, so deserved.

Anonymous said...

Carol, this is going to sound ridiculous because you don't know me from the next pig's head that comes along, but I'm so proud of you and inspired by you. Really - amidst all your doughnut bumbly-ness, you have encouraged me to cut the ties to safe harbour and sail ahead into unknown but exciting seas. Sail well, dear Carol.

Anonymous said...

I may have blown my first try at this. If so, here is what I wanted to say earlier. Beyond any catchy phrases like "you so rock," because you do beyond measure, you have proven how one's life can change in amazing ways when we follow our passions. I not only love everything about your French Laundry at home adventure, but your soul in sharing your humor, your food, your music. Actually the very best part for me was that you invited the lady who sold you the saw to dinner. That says it all! Thank you for doing this. Thank you for sharing. And may all generous, loving and tasty things come your way.

Cameron Siguenza said...

Really cool. Good luck with everything on your demo/pilot. I am a daily reader of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! Will love your show! Your cooking adventures have given me courage to take on challenging recipes. Thanks.

Karen said...

Oh, this post made me happy on so many levels. One, because it was tremendous to read. Two, because you took on something so outre, and with such grace. Three, because you utterly rock on camera. Four, because I've not been so excited about a new food show since I discovered Alton Brown.

And, five, because you made pig cheeks and I literally just had them a week ago at the MAK cafe in Vienna. I even have a lovely photo:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/klg19/2558533960/in/set-72157605484025551/

But let's get back to YOU. You are truly an inspiration, and I love that this fun project you embarked upon so blithely may well turn into something really exciting and lucrative for you. Good ON ya!

p.s. -- I also had beef cheeks in Vienna: I was on a ROLL.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/klg19/2557730835/in/set-72157605484025551/

HS said...

That was brilliant! Congrats, and you should totally get your own show. I'd sure watch.

Anonymous said...

HOLY S&^%!!!!!! AAAGHH! Good for you but I won't be doing that dish - after getting an entire country ham leg for Christmas and having enough time with it and a hacksaw to appreciate its "corpsy" smell and repellently fresh anatomical goodness, husband and I have gone semi veg. If I can't stand the corpsy smell and trimming off the weirdly fresh fat and skin, I certainly can't handle the boar's head.

Erin said...

Not to parrot the above posters, but this was very inspiring and entertaining to watch. I applaud your courage and sense of humor. I would definitely watch your TV show! Best of luck.

Aaron said...

I tried this over the weekend with a head we had left from a pig roast. I enjoyed it quite a bit but couldn't get my wife to enjoy it quite as much. Thanks so much for paving the way!!

soussurvivor said...

This is easily one of my favorite meals. I made my own version and posted it on my blog. Definitely a life changing experience.

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe today...it's hanging in the fridge right now. I hope it's good, considering what a pain it was to make.