Many traditional cuisines use caul fat in a variety of ways: Italians use it to wrap fegatelli, Cypriots use it for sheftalia, the English use it for faggots, the French for pâtés and crepinettes. In the Bordeaux area of Aquitaine, truffled pork crepinettes are served alongside oysters, which may seem like a strange combination, but it works beautifully. The bright brininess of the oysters are a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the fat and truffles. But because black truffles aren’t exactly cheap or easy to come by, today we’re going to make some crepinettes with much more relaxed ingredients. Some wilted greens, browned shallots, and a little nutmeg -- it’s winter wrapped in a tiny, beautiful bundle. Wash them down with a minerally white wine and some plump oysters. —Cara Nicoletti
small shallot, minced
large handfuls lacinato kale, destemmed and sliced thinly
ground pork shoulder
freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
dry white wine
large piece caul fat, cleaned (about 1/2 pound)
neutral oil, like vegetable, for cooking
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium saucepan, sweat the minced shallot in the butter over medium-low heat until it’s soft and translucent -- about 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring constantly until it’s wilted and soft, about 3 minutes. Place in fridge to cool.
Once the kale and shallots have cooled completely, place them in cheesecloth and gently squeeze any excess liquid from the kale (this is optional, but recommended).
Add shallots and kale to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients (minus the caul fat and vegetable oil). Knead with clean hands for 5 minutes, or until a sample placed on the underside of your palm sticks for a solid 10 seconds.
Shape mixture into 15 to 20 evenly-sized meatballs.
Lay caul fat down on a clean surface and cut out 15 to 20 squares, about 4 inches each. Place meatballs in the squares of caul fat and wrap them gently, making sure the edges are sealed. Gently press down and flatten them into disks.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the crepinettes and sear them on one side until browned -- about 2 minutes. Turn over and sear the other side for 2 minutes.
Place pan in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Serve with oysters and wine.
Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog, Yummy-Books.com, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.