Food, Food Artisans

Eve Aronoff Goes Whole Hog!

We recently had a chance to chat with renowned Ann Arbor chef Eve Aronoff. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Eve was the owner of the fondly remembered Eve restaurant in Kerrytown, and has authored  a cookbook called Eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Tradionalle. Eve currently owns the popular Cuban-inspired Frita Batidos in Ann Arbor.  Eve will be speaking and cooking at Zingerman’s 4th Annual Camp Bacon this weekend. 

EJO: Is this your first Camp Bacon?Eve_Frita

Eve: Yes, and I’m very excited!

You’re pulling double-duty for Camp this year. You’re speaking as well as cooking. First off, can you tell us what you’ll be taking about?

I’ll be talking a bit about where my inspiration comes from, using tradition as a starting point.

So, you take a traditional recipe-

It’s not really the recipe. The starting point is actually the traditions of the culture, rather than the actual cuisine. When I lived France, I drew a lot of inspiration from the open-air markets, the coffee, and the pace of life. It was similar in Miami, where I developed this love for the Cuban culture, and that’s what really drives me to create my own dishes that are inspired by Cuban (or Asian, or…) traditions. It’s more about the passion for the food, than following a traditional recipe. I think about various flavor combinations and how they might work together. It’s like I can taste it in my head. And the pig roast we’re doing is a great example of that.

Well, this is a great time to talk about the roast pig. Can you tell us more about that?

Sure. We’ll be cooking a whole pig in a Caja China…

That’s the box, right?

Yes. La Caja China. It’s a wooden cooking box used in Cuban-American cuisine, and is said to have come from the Chinese laborers who immigrated to Cuba in the mid-1850’s.

The box sits on wheels and is lined with aluminum. Inside are two suspended metal racks that hold the pork. Coals are put on top of the box and ignited. The heat from the coals is conducted by the metal inside, surrounding the pork with heat and cooking it evenly all the way around.

And you’re roasting a whole pig? 

Yep! We butterfly-split a pig, and marinate it for 48 hours ahead of cooking. In this case, we’re using two different marinades-one for each half.

One will be a Cuban-inspired recipe called ‘Mojo’ that has bright, citrus flavors along with spicy chilis. The other marinade is an Asian-inspired recipe that’s a combination of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors.

Just before cooking, we take the pork out of the marinade and rub it with a mixture of salt, black pepper, ancho chilis, and brown sugar. Then we clamp it between the metal racks, put it in the box, close it up and start the coals.

How long does it take to cook?

We’re using a 70-80 lb. pig, so we’ll probably check it after about 4-5 hours. We’ll score it with a knife, add more marinade, and flip it over to finish it off for another 45 minutes or so. When it’s ready, we’ll serve it with more marinade as a sauce, along with coconut-ginger rice.

That sounds delicious!

We’ll have a lot, so bring your appetite!

See you at camp!