Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why Less Cost's More ( Juniper / Wild Boar Soup Recipe )

Klecko......where have you been??????

He's Back............

What's Up L.A.B. Rats?

Hope all has been well on your side of the fence.

As for me, I was just doing my best to duck low and stay out of the Dragon's path and keep myself afloat until the year of the Snake kicked in.

The Dragon sure had a few choice parting gifts..........

But Klecko's still standing, so all you fire breathing, scale covered, treasure hoarding freaks can kiss my a**.

LOL, with that said......let me tell you a story.

Last Saturday I had to cover the desk at work.

Typically our shop doesn't run production on Saturday's, there are numerous reasons, but that isn't today's focus.

However, even though the plant isn't producing, it is paramount that at least one problem solver works the desk each Saturday.

When that person enters the plant, the first thing they do is check the temps on the walk in cooler and freezers. If one of the motors or compressor breaks down and you down realize this until Sunday.....thousands of dollars of inventory will perish.

After this task is complete, it's into the business office where you need to check the phone messages.

If a chef forgot to place an order, or our office staff or route driver made an error......somebody needs to start pulling rabbits out of hats.

That's me.


So this day (last Saturday) was slow....uneventful.

Life on Saturday's is easier when it's boring so now I moved down the list and saw that I had "Baby Hot Dog Buns" that had been prototyped for a newer account of ours.

These people run a Sausage House / Micro Brew and they decided to start offering a special Sausage Flight, where they paired exotic sausages with interesting beers.

As you know, when you do flights it's about options right?

So these cats wanted a 3 inch dog bun for their meat samples.

Now the standard  American dog bun ranges between 5-6 inches in length, so for all practical purposes....we just had to make them 1/2 the size.

Well my little Mermaids........this is not as simple as it might seem at first.

When you work in a wholesale plant, everything is measured, everything is regulated.

Bread lines are created to meet the needs of not just a restaurant, or even a city......but an entire society.

When a baker creates a product, they do so trying to kill 1000 birds with one stone.

When my staff gets into hotdog mode, they prepare for hot dogs, poppy dogs, New England Coney's and
Egg & Cheese Dogs.

We can make a wide range of flavors, but each one of these pieces will be scaled off at the same weight.

Machines are set up for that.

Each one of these pieces are same length.

Specialty pans are set up for that.

So when you talk about making a product 1/2 the size. often times the consumer (and in some instances my accounts) the natural reaction is for them to think that since the ingredient cost is nearly 50% less, that their invoice should announce a total with saving at a similar percentage.

However, ingredient cost is just the beginning, what people don't see is the labor cost that is involved.

Those baby dogs have to be hand scaled, run through molders at new settings and then placed on pans of an appropriate size.

The forms impression are simply too long and as the bun proofs....the dog stretches longer.

So now the baker has to take a proofed piece a bun dough and softly squeeze together like an accordion player who is serenading with girlfriend in a room filled with sleeping children.

It is a lot of Mickey Mouse.

Am I complaining.........


Not in the least. This is what I do for a living, but.......it is helpful when consumers place demands on production.......sometimes less can actually accelerate cost for the producer.

In this instance, the account that asked for this specialty piece said they only needed around 250 baby dogs a week.

So how do you price something like that????

Well when the client purchases in high volume, pays their accounts in a timely fashion....I've always found that the best strategy is to discuss with them what I have just told you.

Then you follow that up by saying you value their business, and you don't want to lose it over the price of 250 baby dogs.

Then finally, you just crack a smile and say something like.....................

"I'm happy to have been able to have done this, if I charge you what I think is fair.....you'll probably slug me, so just come up with a number that "you" think is fair.....and we'll call it a deal."

Every time I have taken this approach, the account has kicked in more than their fair share.

People who are successful usually are because they are clever. Clever people know that it is just smart to take care of their purveyors, it 's also good business.

So now I walk out of the sausage house and next door is an Eastern European deli run by Pollacks and Ukrainian's.

I love the joint. I often times will leave Capitol City and cross the ocean just to stock up on my sausages that I use at home.

Every time I go, I get my standards, but often times a good butcher shop will offer monthly or annual specials. If you like to cook, especially soup-stews or chili.......a butcher shop is like a passport. It can take you anywhere.

A good butcher shop will offer you products that will stand your standard recipes on their ear.

Anyways....as usual, I digress.

Bottom line is I walked by the monthly special case, and there it was..............


I knew I had to get a pound.

I knew I was going to use this for soup, but I didn't want to rush greatness.

So after getting off off work, I spent a couple hours praying over what flavors I should introduce into this masterpiece.

Let me start off by listing the ingredients I selected...............................


Here's the Klecko method ....................................................

I broiled 2 - 10 inch wild boar sausages (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 pound) at the same time as 3 skinned-boned chicken breast.

While this was taking place, I put a pot of water on. when it hit it's boiling point....I dumped in a pound of potato gnocchi. After 3-4 minutes, the little dumpling like pieces start floating right?

That's when you put a big pot in your sink a place a strainer over it. Dump the potato gnocchi into the strainer, but reserve the water and now add 4-5-6 little baby red potato's back into the water. I cut mine into little-little-tiny pieces.

I don't want them to compete in size and texture with the potato gnocchi. I simple wanted that "extra" potato to balance off some of the other ingredients (i.e. I.P.A. - Juniper - Ham Base) which would come across as rich and sweet.

So now the potatoes are boiling so I switch my attention to the empty soup pot. I add a little butter on the bottom and then toss in diced carrots, onion and mushroom.

I take whatever time it takes to saute them thoroughly

By the time this is done, the potatoes will have been boiled tender. So now I dump the potatoes and water into the soup pot with the veggies. The amount of reserved potato water will be close to 2 bottles of beer.

Usually I will add more water later, but we'll get to that.

Next I added my ham base. On this day, I didn't have enough time to make an authentic stock, or secure a ham bone, so I just used a bouillon version. 

Ham stock gets overlooked all to often in soup.

I like it because it switches gear.

Beef-chicken and sometimes even vegetable versions come across saltier.

So I blend in the ham stock, and then I followed that by dumping in a 12 ounce bottle of I.P.A.

Eventually I would add 24 more ounces of water, so are ratio rests between 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 of water VS beer.

It is easy to overkill with booze in soups.

The more I cook, and the more expert soup makers I talk to, the more I subscribe to the wisdom.

Alcohol is an ancillary ingredient in soup.

The person eating it shouldn't be certain it's there.

But if it wasn't, you'd sure notice the difference.

Next I cube my meats and then I towel them off with paper.

Some have suggested that this is wrong because the grease enhances the flavor......

Fine, do it your way, but I also want to taste other flavors.

Grease is great, but it will overuse it's authority in a soup pot and bully the other ingredients in a hurry.

Finally I chop up my fresh dill very-very fine, about a handful and then I toss that in and the unless I've forgotten something......you are set!

Boil this delight for 10 minutes and them simmer for 30.

In closing, I'd like to say it's good to be back in the fold, and my friends in Russia.......what's up with that asteroid thing smashing into the Motherland?

That's some messed up biz, and I am sorry for your suffering. That had to be really frightening.

Do your best to recover.

And the rest of you guys.......hit the butcher shop, create a work of art, and then send it to me.....

The Last American Baker.  


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