Over the past few years, collars—the upper shoulder and neck regions of pork, lamb, and fish (if they had necks)—have landed on menus from New York City to Seattle. Denver is no exception. Here are some of the best local preparations of the fatty, versatile cut.
Izakaya Den and Sushi Den
Hamachi and buri (wild-caught yellowtail) collar have been on owner Toshi Kizaki’s menus for years—you just had to know to order it. Kizaki is specific in his cuts: He uses only hamachi that’s farm-raised from March to October and has been swimming a minimum of three years and buri that’s four years or older. Kizaki grills both catches similarly, with only a dash of salt and pepper to capture the fishes’ natural flavors. 1487A S. Pearl St., 303-777-0691, izakayaden.net; 1487 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0826, sushiden.net
Chef Johnny DePierro gets Bones’ halibut collar—a section of fish long prized in Asian cuisine—from Seattle Fish Co. “The collars are rich, tender, and have a great fat content,” DePierro says. DePierro pan-sears and butter-bastes the collars before serving them with green papaya slaw, pistachios, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and green curry vinaigrette. 701 Grant St., 303-860-2929, bonesdenver.com
Troy Guard’s Ballpark cantina continues the tradition of using unique taco fillings with a slow-roasted lamb neck taco. This Mediterranean-inspired version comes with hummus, slaw, grilled onions, tzatziki sauce, shaved carrots, and cilantro. 2463 Larimer St., Suite 102, 303-295-0686, loschingonesmexican.com
Neck bones are often used to make broth for stews, but this Lower Highland neighborhood pub goes beyond that by filling your bowl with melt-in-your-mouth pork-neck green chile stew. As a full-flavored, well marbled cut (the same one that’s used to make coppa salumi), the meat is right at home in chef Jeremy McMinn’s hearty broth of green chile and tomatoes.
3400 Navajo St., 303-433-1990, highlandtavern.com
Oak at Fourteenth
At Oak in Boulder, chef Steve Redzikowski wood-fire roasts hamachi collar—and the slightly smoky, almost caramelized cut is so popular he typically sells 50 orders a week. The dish, which is designed for sharing, is drizzled with ponzu sauce and served with torn basil, scallions, garlic chips, and radishes. The fresh, citrusy notes offset the rich fish. 1400 Pearl St., 303-444-3622, Boulder, oakatfourteenth.com
At this Aurora soul food joint, pork neck is braised in a cast-iron skillet and served with a choice of sides including collard greens and red beans and rice, as well as other Southern favorites. The $9 meal (which also comes with cornbread and a drink) is your link to meaty comfort food happiness. 15343 E. Sixth Ave., Suite B, Aurora, 303-856-3590, flava.biz