ImagesChris Cosentino, chef and owner of Incanto in San Francisco, has taken my challenge to put Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar on his menu–and has done me one better.  He’s returned the chicken to the Caesar without relinquishing the fried.  Beautiful.  (I met Cosentino during the filming of The Next Iron Chef America–a competition that has all the makings of the best reality cooking show to date.) I want to see more "authentic" Chicken Caesars on America’s menus!  I want to see the Cosentino Caesar on Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory menus before the year is out!  Please, will some good SF resident go to Incanto and report back here with a review of the dish?!

UPDATE: Donna sent me this link to very good video of Cosentino on Chow talking about offal (also offers some very thoughtful remarks about peta, worth listening to, and some beeeyouteeful pigs feet).

AND THIS: GREAT pix of an offal dinner captured by Michael Harlan Turkell and featured on


28 Wonderful responses to “Cosentino Accepts Challenge”

  • JoP in Omaha

    Congratulations, Ruhlman, for scoring one for pork belly. That’s prety dang cool.

    As for me, I’ve never had pork belly. Clearly, this is something I need to rectify, In the past month, I’ve seen more stories than I can count that praise its glory. I’m adding it to my to-do list.


  • JoP in Omaha

    I’ve been reading on the ‘net about pork belly in preparation for having a go at cooking it. One article said you must use female pork belly. Michael, do you concur that male pork belly should be avoided? Will a commercial butcher know the gender of the pork belly?

  • JoP in Omaha

    And now I’ve read more closely and looked at the photo–it’s not a pork belly ceasar at all. But still, Ruhlman, score one for inspiring a new dish.

  • edsel

    Emily: Cock’s comb tastes like not much of anything – I bit chickeny. It feels like flabby earlobes. 🙂 I’m interested in trying deep-fried cock’s combs – i bet the texture is an improvement over simmered or sauteed.

  • JC

    JoP – Most raw pork bellies available at commercial butchers in this area will be fine for what you are wanting to do, just make sure that it is unadulterated fresh pork. Personally, I prefer either sow, or barrow (neutered), as the boar(intact) fat can have a very pungent odor with it.

  • parkbench

    Sweet. I’m going to be in the Bay Area in about 4 weeks. That should give him time to put it on the menu! mmmmm….pork belly. 🙂


  • jsmeeker

    Cool. I might be looking more forward to a meal at Incanto than the Steve’s keynote at Macworld San Francisco 2008.

    Apple’s go well with pork, don’t they?

  • Kelvin

    Cock’s comb does sound interesting… Although if you really want to bring the chicken back, and make it look like real croutons, I would use fried chicken testicles, or some other white kidneys; maybe duck. If you ignore the elliptical shape, it’s sized just right for croutons.

    Fried sweetbreads could also be nice. They could be cut to the right size, and the crunchy shell from the frying coupled with the soft inside and the refreshing crunch of the lettuce would be great. Although, with all the fried offals, the dressing might need more acid in it to counter the richness of the offals, or use a cesar vinaigrette instead.

    These are ideas though, don’t know if it’ll actually taste good. Sometimes something sounds great on paper, but ends up just bad.

  • Mark

    I picked up Charcuterie a few months ago and it’s the best book I’ve ever read, hands-down. I have literally several thousand cookbooks in my colection, but this is the one that gets used the most. Since I found it, I’ve been curing and smoking all of my own bacon, pancetta, ham, tasso, sausage, terrines and a variety of other items. The only item that wasn’t a hit immediately was the head cheese, but maybe we just need to call it something different. We use about thirty sides of bacon a week- I shit you not- it goes on almost everything. We print a daily menu here, so I think I’m going to give the pork belly Caesar a shot. I totally agree with what everyone thinks about the chicken Caesar, but we do sell a fair amount, in spite of it being so mundane. As soon as I get my next batch of pork bellies in, I’ll put it on the menu for sure. The beauty of all of this is that even the highest quality Berkshire pork belly from a natural hog is LESS expensive than your crappy garden variety chicken breast, laden with hormones, steroids and God-only- knows what else. Can’t wait to try it. Keller is right- this really is a very hopeful time for the pig.

  • ruhlman

    wow, thanks mark. that’s a pretty resounding appraisal of Charcuterie. I’m grateful.

    i personally think we can save the world through bacon.

    where’s your restaurant? if you get your take on a pork belly caesar on the menu, let me know and i’ll help spread the word!

  • rockandroller

    I wonder if there’s a more “creative” way to list pork belly to get people to eat it that might not otherwise due to what it’s called. Like we do with “hanger steak” or “onglet,” which the John Q doesn’t know is diaphragm. What if you called it pork onglet?

  • Sean

    Thanks for linking the video with Cosentino.

    One issue that Cosentino brought up with reference to PETA bears commenting. He said that PETA doesn’t fully consider the consequences of ending meat/dairy consumption. For instance, where will all the cows go? This is a fairly common critique but it is easily resolved.

    First of all implied in this question is that these animals, stripped of their primary purpose of providing sustenance for humans, have no innate worth. Why should we raise animals if we can’t kill them for food? We shouldn’t raise the animals at all, if we are to truly respect their autonomy as sentient beings. Instead we should let nature takes its course, at least in so far as it is able to with our influence. Does this mean less pigs, less cattle, less chickens? Might it mean that some of the most domesticated breeds may die out or become the rare exhibit of some animal sanctuary? Sure, but then again is this a bad thing? Can one make the argument that continual breeding of these animals by humans is in the interest of the animals? Perhaps it is but if we continue to engage in this practice then we also take on the responsibility of caring for creatures we have bred to be dependant on us; and in this future, our care does not include a final trip to a slaughterhouse and a date with a bolt gun/knife.

  • faustianbargain

    think of all the carbon di-oxide that is emited by the bloating numbers of farm animals…not to mention the most inefficient and in my mind, almost criminal waste of water..water will soon be the most precious commodity.

    ruhlman, i dont know what you’d save with bacon…but does this thing worth saving reside in outerspace because there might not be a earth for us to potter around if we go on at this rate.

    i think there can be a certain number of farm animals between 0 or extinction and 657880989767645343657889.

  • Emily

    Incanto is just a few blocks from our house in San Francisco, and we’re expecting guests this week. So I’ll see about making a trek there, and I’ll report back!

  • Frances

    Offal is not for the squeemish (ie me). But I understand that entrails are a carnivorous animal’s primary (maybe only?) source of vitamin C. The fact that it is high in vitamin C could help to keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and causing trouble.

  • Nic Heckett

    Frances – Pork Belly is not offal. It is uncured bacon. If you have eaten bacon, you have eaten Pork Belly.

  • Jené Wilson

    I loved the Anthony Bourdain special. Thanks for bringing him here. Do it again!

  • josh

    I will have to send you a pic of the finished tapas style fried pork belly caesar that will be going on my new menu in a few weeks. That was the best caesar I ever maid! Its a shame I had to put a gun to every servers head to get them to sell one.

  • Susanne

    Okay Ruhlman. You’re on. I’m going to make my way down to my neighborhood Incanto within the week and report back. Although it might be tough to beat the last time I was there, Chef Cosentino served up a truly amazing pork belly dish with white beans and Mr. AB himself was in the house, it’s true… the man has hands like ripe persimmons…

  • susanne

    I saw Cosentino at the Jardiniere party and was updated on the menu, no more pork belly ceasar folks. Chris did say to drop in to Incanto for some yummy calf brains…I’m going to pass on that.