Finally, after all these years I have decided to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of this country (the U.S.) I can’t seem to find a job these days, so I decided to design a pair of Bacon Shoes in attempt to cash in on this latest bacon craze. Now, I know everyone will want a pair of these killers, but, as the title of the post suggests, these are “Strictly for the Ladies.” I feel your pain all you bacon dudes, but this website I designed ’em at, called Zazzle, only lets you do Keds for ladies. (I don’t know how many bacon-loving dudes are rocking Keds any way.) I expect this design to take off though, so all ya’ll keep your eyes peeled for the Smoked Bacon Air Force 1’s later on in the BBQ season. These are called the Hover Bacon Extreme’s and I’ve priced them at a mere 64.00 (yes, they are ACTUALLY for sale (no joke.)) Mine aren’t the first bacon shoe, but they are certainly the Champion bacon shoe. I’m hoping to make mad cheddar off these joints, so for real, don’t sleep!
“I confess that I am angry at the manufacturers who make these things. There are days when I would be delighted if certain corporation executives could somehow be obliged to eat their products. I know of no good reason why these containers and all other forms of manufactured ‘waste’—solid, liquid, toxic, or whatever—should not be outlawed. There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the flag while tolerating and justifying and encouraging as a daily business the desecration of the country for which it stands.
“But our waste problem is not the fault only of our producers. It is the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom—a symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom—and all of us are involved in it. If we wish to correct this economy, we must be careful to understand and to demonstrate how much waste of human life is involved in our waste of the material goods of Creation. For example, much of the litter that now defaces our country is fairly directly caused by the massive secession or exclusion of most of our people from active participation in the food economy. We have made a social ideal of minimal involvement in the growing and cooking of food. This is one of the dearest ‘liberations’ of our affluence. Nevertheless, the more dependent we become on the industries of eating and drinking, the more waste we are going to produce. The mess that surrounds us, then, must be understood not just as a problem in itself but as a symptom of a greater and graver problem: the centralization of our economy, the gathering of the productive property and power into fewer and fewer hands, and the consequent destruction, everywhere, of the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community.”
— from the essay Waste by Wendell Berry 1989
The above photograph is from the tail end of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park just outside Trenton, NJ. That’s right, this is sponsored by the State of New Jersey (although, in fairness the rest of the canal trail was extraordinary.) It gets worse further on into the actual city, though. The whole “urban nightmare” is in effect. I took this picture last summer while Brie and I were on our bike tour, and I regularly go back to look at it, and try to reason how it made, and makes, me feels to see all that trash, with the turtle presiding over it all like it’s his kingdom. As I was reading the essay from which the above quote is copied, I realized that Wendell Berry had articulated my comparably rudimentary thoughts some 20 years ago in this powerful injunction. I challenge every one who reads this to go a single day without consuming something that comes pre-made or packaged.
One of the benefits of making your own bacon is that you end up with a boat load of bacon fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: save your bacon fat! Otherwise, you might not ever be able to make pork belly confit, perhaps one of the most luxurious, if not down-right hedonistic things one could prepare from the all-mighty pig!
To confit something is to slowly cook it in fat, and so essentially what’s going on here is that you take a piece of pork belly, the same cut used to make bacon, cover it in it’s own fat, and cook it in the oven for about 3 hours, until it’s fork tender. My first encounter with pork confit was at a restaurant called Fork, located in the Old Town area of Philadelphia. I ordered it despite everyone else’s cackles and uhllll’s, and it turned out the pork belly upstaged the rest of the meal. It’s still the best I’ve ever eaten, and it’s set me on a dangerous course leading to coronary heart disease, because now I order pork belly if I see it on a menu irregardless of everything else.
This brings us to Bunk Sandwiches, a lunch spot staple for me in SE Portland. I had read in a magazine that this place features a Pork Belly Reuben on their menu, and therefore I was instantly drawn to the place. However, the menu changes daily, and this sandwich alluded me for many weeks. In that time, I decided the hell with it! I’ll make my own! And that’s what I have done here. I have since eaten one at Bunk, and I can attest that their’s is indeed very good, but so is mine! In fact, my girlfriend even told me that mine is better (haHa!) The amazing thing is how absolutely different they are.
While wondering aimlessly around the Portland Farmer’s Market a while back a certain loaf of bread caught my eye at the Pearl Bakery booth. It was called Vollkornbrot, a dense, hearty, German rye. Once I saw this bread, I knew I would make my reuben on it. In fact, it was actually the catalyst for the whole endeavor. It’s a great bread, and worked out wonderfully. The cheese I used was Tillamook Swiss. I had originally intended to make my own sauerkraut, but after realizing it would take at least five days, I decided to go with Picklopolis, a local pickler, instead. I had my heart set on sauerkraut made from purple cabbage, though, and they don’t make it in a purple variety, so I conspired to dye it purple with a bit of beet. However, while experimenting, I discovered another local sauerkraut purveyor, It’s Alive, produced just a few blocks from where I live, and was overjoyed that I had another choice. Both are excellent sauerkraut’s, and I recommend both of them, but It’s Alive won out for aesthetic reasons. What can I say? Finally, I used the Thousand Island recipe from Charcuterie for the dressing.
As for the Pork Belly Confit, here’s how I made it (you can make more than this at once, just double or triple everything):
Heat the oven to 200º.
Combine 2 tablespoon of the basic dry cure(1# Kosher Salt, 8oz Sugar, and 2oz Pink Salt), 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, a few leaves of fresh sage, 1 shallot, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa, and crush them to a powder in a spice grinder, or a mini-food processor.
Take this mixture and rub it into a 1 to 2# piece of pork belly. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for a day or 2.
After this time has passed, place the the pork belly into an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven. Make sure that it’s a snug fit. Cut up the pork belly if necessary. The more room that is in the pot, the more fat that will be required in order to cover the pork belly. And yes, cover the pork belly completely with rendered fat.
Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, and then place it in the oven, uncovered, and cook for about three hours. When the pork belly is extremely tender, transfer to a separate dish, then strain the fat over the top of it, and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or up to a month. This stuff keeps well, but trust me, it won’t last a month. That’s it for the pork belly confit, from here on out, it’s just heat and serve.
To prepare this sandwich, I sliced the pork belly into quarter inch thick pieces, coated them in cocoa powder, and fried them up in a non-stick skillet. Meanwhile, I toasted two slices of the Vollkornbrot in butter, in a pan on the stovetop, melting a couple slices of the swiss on one slice. Once the pork belly had a crispy golden exterior, I drained it on a paper bag, before placing it on top of the swiss cheese. Then I added the sauerkraut, and smothered it with the Thousand Island dressing, before topping it off with the other slice.
Give yourself time to eat this sandwich. It is incredibly rich. If you eat it too quickly, I swear, you’ll go into a pork belly coma.
- Pre-heat oven to 450.
- Rinse chicken, then dry it off, including the cavity.
- Heavily salt the cavity.
- Truss the Chicken!
- Hit it with some salt, pepper, and cayenne.
- Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and insert into oven.
- Roast until the internal temperature of the thight reaches 155º, about an hour.
- Remove from oven.
- Take some chopped up thyme and throw it in the grease in the roasting pan.
- Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Carve that bird up and eat it!
The Doug Fir Lounge here in Portland had to fill the bill after a certain cancellation for their scheduled show last night, and they did so with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, a short notice gig that the band was ‘more than happy to do.’ Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of this project, and it’s not because they make bad music or anything; it’s just that it’s not Pavement. Many people feel the way I do, so my opinion here isn’t original. However, after last nights gig, I think I understand what makes Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks important, and not just to the fans.
With Pavement, this guy created perhaps 5 of the best indie rock records of all-time, and countless B-sides. But, as my girlfriend says with a shrug: even indie rockers get old. I know. It’s sad but true. Everyone in the band was born in the 60’s, and they all have a checkered past. Stephen is a family man now. He lives in Portland with his wife and two kids. All those things he sang about in Shady Lane have come to fruition, and who can blame him for it. I want a family and a nice home too, someday. Most people do, I think. It’s not unfair to say that creating groundbreaking music and raising children are mutually exclusive. Therefore we have Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, a retirement band, of sorts. It’s a way to tool around, and stay involved and some-what relevant, but there’s no pressure, and that’s what made the show last night so good. Of course I wanted to hear a Pavement song or two, and honestly, I didn’t know a single song they played, but it didn’t matter. It was cool just to see one of my guitar hero’s having a fun night out.
+the wedding band encore:
“Emotional Rescue” (Rolling Stones, 1980)
“All Day and All of the Night” (The Kinks, 1964)
“Shambala” (hit version by Three Dog Night, 1973)
“Love Train” (O’Jays, 1972)
Dream work. . .?