(Originally published March 29, 2016 on Examiner.com).
At the recent Cochon555 held at the Viceroy in Santa Monica, Chef Brooke Williamson of The Tripel, Hudson House and Playa Provisions teamed up with supplier Rainbow Ranch Farms in Pinon Hills, California to compete against four other chefs and suppliers in this years ‘ competition.
Williamson made six different dishes for the judges from the Red Wattle heritage pig provided to her by Rainbow Ranch. One dish was acoppa di testa, a head cheese, made with pickled okra, green peppercorns, preserved Meyer lemons Calabrian chiles and some mustard. This dish was made with the ears, the head – excluding the cheeks- and the trotters of the pig. For this dish Williamson and her team slow cooked the entire head. They then pull and use the meat from the head including the fat and the skin. They chopped, ground and pureed these different elements and then set into a gelatin made from a stock made out of the trotters and the neck of the pig.
The cheeks were used in a second dish- a cuttlefish and lobster fregola topped with a cheek meat sugo that also included a puffed chicharrón. Williamson had never worked with a Red Wattle pig before. This breed, she noted has a richer meat with bigger bolder flavor than any other pork she has used before. Additionally, according to Williamson, the breed is a very fatty pig with luscious fat. In her second dish, she used the fat in the sugo. In a third dish, she whipped the fat into some crème fraiche to put on top of a fritter.
These dishes along with all the other she made, she’d serve in her restaurant Tripel. Though in her restaurant, she wouldn’t serve all six of her dishes she made for Cochon555 at the same time. These dishes reflect her philosophy of doing simple yet unexpected food. Keeping food exciting and keeping people’s palates interested is Williamson goal in general, so the dishes she made for this event reinforced her culinary philosophy.