Though the contents in canned Spam have always been a meaty mystery, The Modern Hotel and Bar's version of the iconic product is much less nebulous: "It's mostly beef and pork fat," explained Chef Nate Whitley.
The Modern grinds leftover meat scraps and bits of fat, combines that mixture with flour, spices and eggs; then bakes it all in a terrine mold. What comes out is a speckled pink loaf that's seared and served on a sandwich with kimchi and spicy aioli.
The bar and restaurant has also concocted a variety of other terrines in the past, including one comprised of duck, pork, chicken and leeks, and another with pork and black trumpet mushrooms.
See recipe on page 68.
Our bologna has a first name, it's O-N-T-H-E-F-L-Y. The downtown deli, perched on the second floor of the gleaming Eighth and Main Tower, does its own unique take on the deli staple.
"We use pork loin, a little bit of back fat or pork fat, emulsify it, send it through the grinder several times, emulsify it," said owner Dustan Bristol. "We put it in a regular bologna sheet and then cook it and slice it."
Bristol serves his bologna on white bread from Gaston's Bakery that he's dubbed "Wonder Bread on crack," then smears it with green olive spread and tops it with romaine and white cheddar.
"So it's like a bologna and cheese—up a level," said Bristol.
Deep in the bowels of Bittercreek Ale House, down a labyrinthine maze of basement hallways, Butcher Remy Tordjman breaks down whole animals to make an assortment of cured meats. One delicacy is a ruby-hued duck ham, which is served sliced razor thin on a meat board.
"The duck ham is primarily molasses, pink salt, kosher salt and brown sugar," said Tordjman.
He submerges duck breasts in this brine for three to four days, rinses them, dries them for a day and finally throws them on a smoker for an hour and a half.
Tordjman also makes salami, pepperoni, chorizo and lamb-chetta, a lamb bacon that's cured, rolled tight and aged for about a month. He's also waiting for a hoof-on hog leg to finish aging in the restaurant's prominently displayed curing box.
"Prosciutto takes about a year to cure and we're at about six to seven months," said Tordjman.
BBQ4LIFE co-owner and master 'cuer Brad Taylor doesn't coat his ribs in sauce before, during or after cooking. He came up in the business entering barbecue competitions and found simplicity was the key to perfect-every-time ribs. Taylor buys racks consistent in size, seasons them with a seven-ingredient dry rub and cooks them on pecan wood in a smoker he built himself. The only time anything sauce-like touches BBQ4LIFE pork ribs is when they're "foiled" (wrapped in tinfoil) with a little honey and brown sugar after they're pulled off the smoker, or when a customer requests dipping sauce on the side. From smoker to table, the pork rib process takes about five hours. When the ribs are done the meat does not "slide off the bone"—contrary to popular belief, Taylor says, that means they're overcooked. BBQ4Life's toothsome ribs are sliced thick and accompanied with a side of mac 'n' cheese, potato salad or a vegan option like spicy coleslaw or country beans. A half-rack is easily enough food for two—but after a bite of BBQ4LIFE's ribs, you might not want to share.
Despite its recent acquisition by beer giant Anheuser-Busch, 10 Barrel has put down deep roots in Boise since it opened in 2013. The proof? Check out its sweet and savory Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, which sources key ingredients from local providers. It's loaded with a messy but smooth Thai peanut sauce from Boise-based City Peanut Shop and gets its mild tang from a thin spread of peppery, slightly sweet sambal mayonnaise across the bottom bun. Add to that house-cured bacon and cilantro—all topped with a bun from Garden City-based Acme Bakeshop.
Acme Bakeshop founder Mike Runsvold cut his teeth at Zeppole Baking Company and Gaston's Bakery before striking out on his own in 2013. Runsvold handcrafts his loaves—everything from baguettes to boule, ciabatta to challah—in a Garden City warehouse and sells them fresh at the Boise Farmers Market and the Boise Co-op. Not only does the bakery partner with local producers to make specials like the Fiddlers Green Garlic Sourdough and the Peach Brioche from Kelley's Canyon Orchard, but Acme also shows up on a number of local restaurant menus. Runsvold's commitment to his craft recently landed him recognition from the James Beard Foundation in the Outstanding Baker category.
City Peanut Shop is just what it sounds like: a place where you can purchase peanuts in an astounding variety—everything from Idaho Smoke Jumper peanuts slathered in Memphis barbecue and Tabasco to mega-spicy ghost chili peanuts that could make a grown man cry. But it's not all groundnuts—City Peanut also offers savory snacks like Lime Curry Coconut Cashews and Maple Bacon Pecans. Not only do City Peanut's products pair well with a variety of local beers, its Honey Roasted Peanut Butter also winds its way into the Thai-themed hamburger at 10 Barrel across the street.