Roast Pork Belly

Around the same time we had a baby, a couple friends and myself went in on a half a pig from Tails & Trotters. I’ve been taking some heat on my FB page about how there should be more baby pics than pork pigs. I don’t know why people have to hate—it’s an even heat anyway!

For Xmas Eve dinner, I made a pork belly roast from the slightest portion of the vast amount of belly that we got in the share. I followed the procedure from Canal House Cooking Vol. 5, and paired it with roast carrots, and a celeriac remoulade, which was also featured in the cookbook. The whole meal is really easy, and if you already love to eat bacon, this recipe isn’t going to give you any added risk of a massive coronary heart attack. Well, it might. The simplicity of this dish belies the time it takes to prepare. The following is a minimum of time needed, in hours, and by stage, to prepare this pork belly, just so you can plan if you decide to give it a go: 4+1.5+1+2+.25 or almost 9 hours. Of course, this is the kind of thing that you can have ready to go well in advance of a proposed dinner hour, as in days early.

This can be prepared with a piece of pork belly that has the skin still on, or not. I made it with the skin still on, but when I make it again, I’ll probably remove it. I learned that it is better without out it because I wasn’t paying enough attention (Scotch plus ) to the oven during the final stages of cooking and I burnt it to a crisp. When I heated up the remaining portion a few days later, I watched more closely, and the skin did some cool stuff, but it was inconsistent—half of it popped up like a pork rind, but the other half just remained chewy and almost a burden to eat. If you could guarantee that it would all pop up (I’m sure there’s a way. . .) then I’d say leave it on without question. Either way, you want to score the meat into a small-square patchwork as illustrated in the pictures. If you leave the skin on, your knife will have to be extremely sharp!

Ingredient List for the belly: 2 Tbls Sugar, 2 Tbls Kosher Salt, 2 Tbls fresh thyme leaves, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 3lb (or less) piece of pork belly, and 1 cup of apple cider.

Combine the first four ingredients, rub it all into the meat, and put the belly into a ziploc bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 250º. Once it has cured for a sufficient amount of time (I let it go for about 4-5 hours), remove it from the bag and rinse it off. Dry with paper towels, then place it into a roasting pan, skin side up, that will fit it snugly. I used my 10″ skillet, because all my roasting pans are enormous. Pour in the cup of apple cider, cover the pan with a lid or tin foil, and roast in the oven for about 1.5 to 2 hours, basting occasionally. Up the heat to 400º and roast for an additional hour. The meat should have a very appetizing golden brown color. Remove it from the oven and wrap it up in tin foil. Place it on a plate, or baking sheet large enough to accommodate the meat, and place a similar sized plate or baking sheet on top of it, weighing it down with something on the heavy side. I used a pyrex filled with dried garbanzo beans from back when I was making quiches on the regs. Let it chill in the refrigerator for as long as you have time to wait. Word is, that you’re supposed to let it chill thoroughly, but I wouldn’t sweat it. The purpose is to let the weight compact the flesh and the fat of the pork belly into a more solid block. It does help in terms of mouth-feel and presentation to a degree, but if you just want to get it going as soon as possible, I’d allow about 2 hours of chill time.

Once it has chilled thoroughly, preheat the oven to 350º, and take the belly and cut it into (reasonably-sized) squares. Heat the individual squares for 15 to 20 minutes. Of my own accord, I decided to hit ’em with the broiler to finish them off. This is where I charred the skin to inedibleness and almost started a Christmas fire via flaming parchment paper (not really. Well, possibly.) But it was OK. In the midst of all the smoke pouring from the oven, I cut off all the char to reveal a fatty layer, and as the baking sheet I was using was covered in a tattered war zone of burnt and fat, I placed the individual pieces into separate spots in a muffin tin and returned them to the broiler. This time I watched more carefully as the fat caramelized under the extreme heat, and pulled them when they reached a rich dark brown.

EXTRAS: To make a delicious sauce, pour off the majority of the fat in the roasting pan that will inevitably have rendered from the belly. The gooey brown bits, and sugary sludge are what you want here. Pour in a cup more of apple cider, bring up to a boil, and all the while scrap up the bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce until it’s a nice syrupy consistency, and reserve.

To make the Celeriac Roumelade: julienne a 1lb celery root bulb. Combine the juice of 2 lemons, 2 Tbls of Dijon mustard, and half a cup of heavy cream. Mix it in with the celery root, and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is a great addition to the dish as the fresh tang of the lemon, and vinegariness of the dijon pairs wonderfully with, and cuts through the rich fattiness of the pork. If not this, then it should be paired with a similar side dish.

Edit: This is a pic of what happened with the piece that I broiled more carefully:

It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the crisp crunchy skin pieces, and the ones that stay relatively chewy. I’m wondering how to get them all to pop…


Lucia Patrice

Gabrielle and I had a baby:


Terror, Cupcake. Terror.

Is it too soon for another cupcake post? I thought so, too. Let’s talk about the Portland “Turkey Bomber” instead. If you didn’t know, a young man, 19, named Mohamed Osman Mohamud tried to detonate a car bomb next to this Christmas tree lighting ceremony, an implied attack on Christian morals and values, that was held the day after Thanksgiving here in Portland, OR. I know, on the face of it this is simply shocking, and would have been a terrible tragedy if this event were authentic and not a completely fabricated propaganda scheme set in motion by the FBI. Some people outside of the mainstream news media in the city believe that the reasons behind this bomb scare stem from Portland’s refusal to participate in the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI, indeed the only major city in the US to decline. The JTTF was seen as essentially an agreement that gives Federal control over local police. Of course, after this “act of terror” the City Council appears willing to change course and join the JTTF. So this, in addition to the general public being scared shitless (and maybe even willing to forgive airport screening?) makes this all a success, no matter what the final verdict on Mr. Mohamed turns out to be.

But why is this all a fake scheme? The mantra here is “the threat was real”, but it wasn’t. There was never a threat, unless you count the FBI as one. The FBI successfully stopped a plot that it had manufactured itself. They hunted out and found a disillusioned young immigrant boy, who had abstract thoughts about what was being done to Muslims by the United States, and they sent him a couple of undercover jihadists to help him along in his indoctrination, and provide him with EVERYTHING he needed to follow through with this plot, including the van, the bomb and, I believe, the true desire to do it. I mean, they also paid his rent. This is not to completely exonerate him, but come on, this dumb kid didn’t stand a chance against a team of highly trained federal psychological specialists. No one would. I’m pretty sure that starting from the right seed they could get anyone to perform any act that could be dreamed up.

This article from is an excellent criticism of the whole plot. All I can really say about the matter is that I am not any more afraid, rather I am extremely angry, and seeing this story unfold has made me question this so called War on Terror from a fresh perspective. It makes me question all of the plots that have come before it, including the shoe-bomber, and the underwear-bomber. Try to remember that the person who was pawned into this set-up will be largely forgotten, while the possibility of being blown-up while running errands will remain. This is a game of psychological warfare, and the whole community has been victimized.

I wish i could say that these cupcakes were the bomb, so that I could have focused this post on them instead, but they were only a ‘B’ at best. They’re from Ad Hoc at Home. Make the brownies instead.

Oh, and by the way, there is an ongoing trial at the moment of a couple of white folks in Woodburn, OR who successfully detonated a bomb at a bank killing 2 police officers. Funny how the FBI weren’t all over that one, and how the suspects in that case aren’t considered terrorist, either.


Chicken Liver Pâté

Some people grab a Nutrageous, or some weird flavored gum as an impulse purchase. This guy: Two pounds of chicken livers. I don’t even like chicken livers. I’ll go one step further: I think chicken livers are fucking disgusting—on their own, of course. Inject half a lb. of fancy butter into them, it’s a new deal. The recipe I used, from Canal House Cooking Vol. 3 calls for 12oz of chicken livers. The frozen block of those joints I grabbed clocked in at 2.34lbs. Damn that’s a lot of liver! So I doubled the recipe. I should really say that the CHC recipe inspired me, because I ended up substituting and forgetting so many details of it (and it’s only a paragraph long) that I can’t say with any certainty that the results are similar outside of the preposterous amount of butter that goes into it. I got that part right.

Since I doubled the recipe, I started off by sautéing a couple bunches of scallions in 6 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish Butter, adding in 24 oz of chicken livers once the onion had softened. I don’t have a kitchen scale anymore because I bought one that ate my 9 volt battery up if I left it in the unit. GRRRR. I would ‘NOT Recommend’ it if I could remember what kind it was. So anyway, I assumed that each liver was 1oz, and I counted out 24 for of them. I cooked them until they were still pinkish on the inside, about Medium, I’d say.

Next, I transfered the livers to a food processor, and added 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of all-spice substitute (1 tsp cinnamin, 1/2tsp ginger, and 1/2tsp clove), and I was supposed to add 2 heaping Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard, but I forgot to do that. Then I blended the hell out of it, slowly adding 6 additional Tablespoons of BUTTER! The result should be smooth and creamy. . .

This recipe produced four ramekins of baby diarrhea. Delicious, forbidden baby diarrhea. (EDIT: Turns out baby poop is more a brown mustard-type of deal. . .)

I made fancy little crostini’s to go with it: thin slices of french bread, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with fleur de sel and cracked pepper and baked at 375º for 10-15 minutes. My mother-in-law keeps calling them patayta chips, some of the best she’s ever had!

I guess leaving the mustard out wasn’t too big a deal, because I slathered enough it over the toasts to more than make up for it. Although, I lurv mustard, so a double-dose wouldn’t be too bad either. I gave this stuff a sniff after I’d had it all blended up in the food processor, and yeah, I gagged a little. I’m not going to pretend like this stuff is even remotely appetizing in appearance. But, I rolled up my sleeves, and plunged a bite into my skeptical mouth, and, and . . . it was actually delicious! I have been converted. Liver w/ butter is, in fact, a terribly delicious treat.

Chicken Liver Pâté from Canal House Cooking

• 12oz of chicken livers
• 6 Tablespoons of butter (Kerrigold Irish butter is recommended)
• 1 bunch of chopped, trimmed scallions
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground allspice
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
• a splash of cognac (optional)

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the scallions and cook until they are tender. Add the chicken livers, and cook until they are pinkish in the center, but not too rare. Remove from the heat, and into a food processor. Add the salt, allspice, the mustard and a splash of cognac if you like. Start to blend, slowly adding 3 additional Tablespoons of butter as it blends. Blend until it is extremely smooth. Transfer the pâte to a well-greased container or containers, cover, and refrigerate for about 8 hours, or until it has solidified. Serve with toasts or crackers with a sprinkling of chopped chives.

A Few Notes: I thought that mine turned out a bit on the grayish side, when I was expecting it to be pinkish-brown. I asked about it at a butcher that I go to, and they told me that the freshness of the livers greatly effects the color. They also said that cooking time, and cooking in aluminum would effect the color as well. My conclusion was that I perhaps over-cooked the livers just a bit, because I was terrified of them at the time. Additionally, they suggested adding mascarpone to the livers when you’re blending them for some extra creaminess. I have to admit that that sounded like a great idea! I also saw that they put theirs in a mold with dried cherries and pistachios, which also sounds great. Next time I try to make this I’m definitely going to give those variations a try.


I guess I should be thankful for left-overs. . .

. . . or should I?

(Food Carts Friday preempted by the above monstrosity.)

Food Carts Portland Uncategorized

Food Cart Fridays: The Sugar Cube

I’d been in the mood for a cupcake for a while now, and Gabrielle always has a hankering for one, so I thought what better way to rectify this situation than by paying a visit to The Sugar Cube and picking up a couple of what by many, many accounts is the best cupcake in town.

Behold: The Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake!

So, the hype is real. . . this cupcake was mad good, and I basically wish that I had ordered 4 of them instead of 2. Here’s the breakdown: it’s a super dark chocolate cake, with a dark chocolate ganache, with Ruffles jammed into the top and smothered in caramel sauce. Pretty much everything about it was perfect. Some Portland transplant ahead of me in line said it “sounds disgusting” and when asked if she was serious, tried to play it off like she was saying it ironically, like it sounds “bad!” or something. Some people. In any case, if anyone in Portland was considering making a trip out to try one of these, and were on the fence about heading out of the house in this miserable weather that we are getting into, then here is some incentive–Kirsten (the owner) is closing up the Cube for 3 months to focus on working on a cookbook for Chronicle Books. So this weekend is your last chance to catch this motherfucker! (until spring)

The Sugar Cube
Mississippi Marketplace
4233 N Mississippi Avenue
Portland, OR

Cooking Photography Uncategorized

Pickled Beets

I picked up a hefty bag of golden beets the other day. They were all very small, none larger than say a golf ball—-perfect for pickling! This is probably my favorite home-made pickle that I’ve done so far. I make them whenever I can procure a large number of golden or chiogga beets for relatively little money. (Sometimes beets can be extremely expensive, and other times not.) It’s super easy, and the flavor the beets take on is amazing.

• 1-2 lbs small beets of any variety (enough to fill a 1 quart mason jar)
• Olive Oil and salt & pepper
• a few sprigs of tarragon
• one small bulb of fennel
• a few thick strips of orange zest

Pickling Liquid:
• 1 cup champagne vinegar (or other similar variety)
• 1/2 water
• 1/2 sugar

Preheat the oven to 375º. Toss the beets in a bowl with olive oil and some salt and pepper until they are evenly coated. Fold all of the beets up into some tin foil, and put into the oven, baking for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Once they are done baking, allow them to cool until you are able to handle them. Then peel and trim the beets making sure they’re nice and clean. Cut the fennel into thin strips, a bit larger than say a matchstick. Put the beets and fennel into mason jar along with the orange zest and about 3 or 4 sprigs of tarragon.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a small pot, and bring to a simmer. Then pour it straight into the mason jar. The liquid should come right up to the brim (or at least pretty close!) Put the lid on the jar, and allow it to come to room temperature, then put it into the fridge for 2 days before eating for full pickle effect. (You can eat them sooner, if you want, but the pickling process takes a few days.) These last forever so long as they’re kept refrigerated, but I don’t reckon they’ll last too long. . .


I Drank A Colt 45 For Science

We were out driving the other day and one way or another I hit on an idea that I had from back in the day. It’s a pretty simple proposition, but it is also probably one of the only realistic money making ideas that i have ever had in my entire life. So the question is. . . Who’s ready for a Malt Liquor 40oz Coffee Table Book? Think about it. You know you want one.

The idea is to dedicate an entire double page to each individual 40oz, including, but not limited to, a money shot, an in action shot, a who’s drinking it shot, a rundown of pertinent information, like what the fuck is in it?, and then maybe some gimmicky shit (I present this term ironically) wherein a volunteer would drink their way through (at least) 4 bottles of said 40oz, coupled with a play-by-play analysis of said drinkers level of drunken exploits (this, running on the assumption that each individual different type of 40 will provide a variation of drunkeness, and thus an altogether novel drunken experience (this last point being completely drunk induced.))

So there’s a couple of questions at hand. The first one that comes to mind is “Why am I drinking this nasty beer?” I just asked myself that. i have like a 10th of this bottle of beer left to go, and I think that I am drinking it for pride at this point. It’s pretty bad. I put on some old school Redman, dare iz a darkside, for motivation because earlier I had that drunk-in-highschool feeling that you get from drinking too much of this cheap ass shit and you find you’re all laid out with your body vibrating to the grooves. I put the record on to try and extend that sensation because it was rather pleasant, but now it is kind of taxing. I’m like I’d rather be in bed right now, but I I have to ingest this last bit of swill (just a reminder that this isn’t a High Society site. Or is it?) But, how weak is this? I mean, I drank like 2 beers before I cracked open the 40, and I had a satisfying buzz running, so let’s say for arguments sake that I am at about 54oz of drinking right now. I started at about 9.30pm and now it’s 1.30am, so I’m at 4 hours worth of drinking, I’m pretty drunk, and I’ve only drunk about 4 and a half beers worth of beer. Who am I to decide that someone has to drink 4 40oz of Malt Liquor in order to properly represent themselves in my Coffee Table book. I don’t like to ask others to do things that I should reasonably be able to do myself. So this is the science part. I wanted to dip my toe in the water, to see if I still had what it takes to do that kind of drinking. If we were talking G&T’s I’d be all like what’s up? Let’s do this! But drinking this malt liquor is tough. I find it pretty clear that if you’re drinking this stuff your main objective is to get drunk, not to have a good time. So, that begs the question. . . can you get ridiculously drunk from 40’s and still have a good time, or do you inevitably turn into an out of control raging bull (like in the commercials,) smashing through all kinds of doors, wrecking the bar, alienating all the ladies (except those that can hang, malt liquor-wise, naturally.) I guess we’ll have to see. I’m sure drama makes for engaging coffee table books.

PS: I’m looking for volunteers to drink 4 40’s!

Music Uncategorized

I said “Hey, Now! Another Mixtape!”

What up, blogosphere? I’m having a restorative Friday night inside in preparation for my (observed) birthday weekend, which will begin tomorrow morning, and last until my real birthday which is November 20th. You all won’t believe what I’m really getting for it, but I will share the joy when the time comes. In the meantime, I decided not to party too hard tonight because tomorrow we are having a night out on the town. We are going to dine out at a fancy restauarant, and then Gabrielle is going to drive me across town where I will probably drink a few beers somewhere before we enter the renowned Cinema 21 and participate(?)/view, I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but the bottom line is that we’re going to watch a ton of homemade porn at this event called the Hump! Festival hosted by one Dan Savage, you know, the gay dude who lets you know (rather harshly as I recall) that it is not cool to not go down on your gf when it’s like totally Woman Season. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that front—the Crimson Tide is a non-starter on the real! Euphemisms abound!

So I spent the evening listen to tunes and checking out this cool website where you can host live streaming mixtapes. One of my friends described it as a tumblr for music, and I’d have to agree with that. I did both this time. I made a mixtape in Garageband with slick transitions and whatnot, and then I also went ahead and uploaded the same songs in the same order on the 8tracks website. For some reason, I named the mix Billy D Did A Reading Poster, Too. The main reason is probably because I got it into my head that i was going to drink a Colt 45 earlier, for science, but I have as yet chickened out, and it’s chillin’ the fresh way up in my freezer. Which reminds me that I should take it out before it explodes!

Here’s my link to the my: 8track site page.

Here is the link to: the Downloadable Mix.

Bat for Lashes – Horse & I
Keep Shelly in Athens – Running Out of You
Grimes – Sagred [something in Russian]
jj – Let Them (T.I. Cover)
Weekend – Coma Summer
Tennis – Cape Dory
HTRK – Waltz Real Slow
Plastic Flowers – We Just Had More Fun
Mogwai – 2 Rights Makes 1 Wrong
CFCF – It Was Never Meant To Be This Way

Cooking Food Carts Portland

Food Cart Fridays: Lardo

Gabrielle and I stepped out for an early dinner (2:30PM) today at the Good Food Here food cart pod. While there are numerous good choices to be had here we decided on Lardo, because I never say no to rich fatty goodness. . . ever! The word ‘porchetta’ wins. That’s why I chose it. Gabrielle liked the cart’s colors and thought it was cute.

The Porchetta from Lardo is the third interpretation of this sandwich that I have eaten, although I have seen it on a number of menus about town. The popularity of this preparation seems to be taking a real hold in Portland, and for good reason. The wiki claims that it is traditionally made from an entire de-boned pig, which sounds the bomb, but perhaps a bit excessive, especially for a food cart. In every case that I have witnessed thus far the porchetta has been constructed by wrapping an enormous slab of pork belly around a whole tenderloin, with layers of herbs and spices, and perhaps a layer of sausage thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is roasted with the skin on, resulting in a golden crispy crust, and a moist luscious interior. If I had to guess, I’d say that this preparation turns out a good 20-30lb roast, or, just enough to feed Kevin Smith. One of the carts proprietors, Rick, allowed me to snap a photo of his porchetta roast:

As you can imagine, this is an intensely rich sandwich. Lardo prepares it on a toasted 8″ roll, that’s similar to a ciabatta, but not quite as chewy. It’s crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, with good olive oil and gremolata on the top side, a couple layers of porchetta, and a caper aioli rounding out the bottom side. Gabrielle and I both thought that we detected a bit of anchovy in aioli, too, but we could be wrong. My first bite was intensely lemony, which gave me misgivings at first, but on second bite there was far less, which led me to believe that I might of just happened to hit on a cluster of lemon peel from the gremolata. The actual porchetta was very good, indeed. Sliced thin enough to be able to bite through effortlessly, yet still maintain the feeling of a hearty piece of pork. This is a point of contention that I have with Chop’s sandwich, in that they make theirs with one large slice of porchetta which sort of causes you to have to tear a bite off of the sandwich forcefully, rather than tenderly. You don’t want to fight with it. A sandwich like this demands to be eaten slowly, luxuriating in its glory. This sandwich was very satisfying, although I must say that I would have to dig deep within to muster the strength to eat another one in the next few days. I’d have to give it at least a week.

One thing I’d like to add though, and this is not a dig on Lardo specifically, but $8 is a lot of money for only the sandwich. What ever happened to a little side of something? I’ll grant you that places like Lardo, and Chop, and the People’s Pig, and Meat Bread Cheese, all use high quality top-notch ingredients, but shelling out another 4 to 5 bucks for a side starts to get really expensive for a lunch. I’m not asking for the world over here, but I’m just saying that something like a few simple pickles or something like that on the side would go a long way–something that you could nibble on in between bites to keep the flavors of the sandwich fresh with each bite. I know price point and profit are a tough game to play, but I think that a small accouterment would raise costumer satisfaction, and result in more repeat business. Just a thought. . .

In any case, Gabrielle ordered the Al Ceppo Pasta w/ a Tomato Pork Rágu. While it isn’t much to look at, it was a very good pasta dish. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was rich and meaty, though the meaty part sunk to the bottom of the container for the photo. I only ate a bite or two, and I liked it a lot. Gabrielle was very fond of the tubular pasta shape, and thought that the portion size was very satisfying, just the right amount.

We would definitely visit Lardo again, and I eagerly anticipate trying their fried Mortadella and Provolone sandwich, a picture of wich is featured on their website. We wish them all the success that they can handle! Current Menu, operating hours, and web link are below.