Eastside Road, January 11, 2012—MANY YEARS AGO, back in the '70s I suppose, Victoria Kroyer (now Wise) opened a charcuterie on Berkeley's Shattuck Avenue, across the street from Chez Panisse, where she had been the first chef. Pig-by-the-Tail was a marvelous place. I knew from the beginning it would be, for she borrowed my Emerson to double-check the shop's motto: "I would write on the lintels of the door-post, Whim" (from the essay "Self-Reliance"), and any institution so flagged was bound to be good.
Among her most wonderful creations were her crépinettes. According to her book American Charcuterie (New York: Viking Penguin, 1986), which is indispensable, they are "the easiest sausage to make." Chopped spinach wilted in butter; ground pork and chicken and fatback, mixed and seasoned with nutmeg, pepper, cayenne, salt, coriander, ginger, and cloves; wrapped a quarter-pound at a time in caul fat with a tarragon leaf or two (or maybe a small bay leaf).
I bought these crépinettes whenever I had the, um, whim, which was often; particularly since our teen-aged daughter Giovanna was working there and could, as I recall, get them at a discount. On the rare days there were any left at the end of the day.
Alas, Pig-by-the-Tail is long gone; but yesterday I saw them at the Rouge butcher counter down on Berkeley's Fourth Street, and brought a couple home.
To cook them, you just put them in a hot dry black iron skillet, covered so as not to spatter all over the kitchen, and cook them to 140° or so on a hot fire.
Tonight we had them with romanesco from the farm next door and Corona beans left over from last Saturday. I put a couple of slices of focaccia in the skillet, not to waste the drippings. A green salad; then for dessert some pan pepato and tangerine ice — why eat out?
Cheap Nero d'Avola