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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…

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Bacon Cooking Uncategorized

Duck Breasteses & Brussel Sprout Hash





Someday soon I’m going to learn how to make duck breasts some other way, but this way is just so effortless, with perfect results, that a deviation from the norm just seems . . . inadvisable. I learned how to make them from the cookbook Bouchon, a book that I am an unrepentant disciple of, and highly recommend, even though I’m sure it doesn’t require any more endorsements. The duck breast technique actually requires a slight bit more prep and foresight than is displayed in this post, but it’s all really easy. Gabrielle just happened to demand meat for dinner, and so I hopped down to the butcher and picked these up on the fly. That’s why I didn’t get to finesse them like usual.







For a side, we made a brussel sprout hash with chantrelles, potatoes and bacon. This is a pretty standard, tried and true combination. And, you know how it is with brussels–you have to smother them in some kind of fat; it might as well be a combination of bacon and duck. We got loads of them in our CSA, and so we made a huge batch of this.



Below is the scene on the stovetop. This photo is from a little late in the game, but this is what it’s all about: the white bowl is to hold all the individual ingredients for the hash while the others cook—separately. You want to be able to fry, char, caramelize, and so on rapidly. Unless you want to do a bunch of separate pans, this is the way to go. To do this kind of cooking you need like killer high heat, and if you throw everything in at once, you’ll just end up with a big mushy mess. If you had a wok with one of those rapid fire furnace burners, this would all be superfluous, but whose got that at home? You need two frying pans for the duck breasts, or rather, one for each of them if you make more than two, and then a bowl between the pans for the duck fat run-off, which is actually the main reason we’re even messing around with this cut at all. Seriously, duck fat is immeasurably valuable! Something about it makes everything more amazing!







Brussel Sprout Hash:



• a gang of brussels, sliced in half
• a pile of chantrelles, roughly chopped
• a bevy of bacon; slab, cut into 1/4″ lardons and cooked off, fat reserved
• a few potatoes, 1/4″ dice
• 2 shallots, finely diced
• s&p, and maybe some cayenne and coriander if you’re so inclined.



Heat a large sauté pan up on high heat. Throw a tablespoon or so of the reserved bacon fat into the pan. Once it starts to smoke a little, throw in the shallot and potato together, season wit a little salt and pepper and other spices if you want, and let them brown up on the side they fall on before tossing them around in the pan for a minute or two, and then remove to the bowl set to the side. Repeat with the chantrelles, and then finally with the brussels. If your cooking the breasts at the same time, it’s always a good bet to throw in some duck fat instead of or in combination with the bacon fat. The brussels will take a bit longer than the other components, but once they’re browned nicely, add the other things back into the pan, stir it up, and let it ride on low until the duck is done.







Duck Breasts:



• duck breasts
• salt and pepper
• nutmeg
• thyme



Take each breast, and cut a cross hatch into the fat, being careful not to cut into flesh. This is easier when they are very cold, so try to do it as soon as you take them out of the fridge. Salt the fat side heavily with a kosher salt, or otherwise, and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top. Rub it into the grooves, flip the breast, and lightly salt, and pepper the flesh sides. Lay a whole sprig or two of thyme over the top, place on a plate and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Take the breasts out of the fridge at least a half hour before you want to cook them. Preheat your frying pans to medium low, and your oven to 375º. Place the breasts in the pans skin side down, and cook for approximately 15 minutes, holding the breast in place and pouring off the rendered fat from time to time. The fat will crisp up and will become irresistible. At this point you can transfer them all to one pan if they’ll fit, and cook them flesh side down for a minute or two before transferring them to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Duck can be cooked to the same degree as steak, and therefore rare is fine, but I’ve found medium to medium rare to be more appetizing. However, DO NOT OVERCOOK them. The same rules as steak do indeed apply in this regard. Represent what? My Duck:







Categories
Cooking Portland Uncategorized

Pata(y)ta Pizza





Edit: Title modified per Jacinda’s admonishment in the comments



Gabrielle was so excited that she came home and there was a ‘patayta’ pizza waiting for her. I became so enraged (again) that she pronounces ‘potato’ this way that I forbade her to eat any of it until she said it the right way. OK. I lie. But it eats me up! I mean she mize well be one of these people that says ‘sangwich’! But how could I withhold this beautiful pizza from anyone who wanted a slice! (O cruel world, how you make us endure such senseless injustices!) I been killing it on the pizza front lately, though. The one I made before this should have been dag-nasty, because I’ve had it that way before—and the only guy I know who ever loved it probably lost his legs in a gambling debt by now—but the BBQ chicken joint was actually pretty good. This one, however, was slammin’! Talking ’bout a Baked Potato Pizza!!



So, yeah, I buy my pizza dough and I always keep one in the freezer. I’ve tried for years to make my own pizza dough, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth the effort, especially when there is someone out there who knows how to already, and sells it for a song. I like making pizza for dinner because it’s so easy. Sometimes I don’t feel like braising short ribs on a wednesday night. And we’re not all intellectuals, so I spent my whole day at work thinking about what I wanted to go on it. I changed my mind at the last minute once I remembered that I had some left-over baby dutch potatoes languishing in the fridge. I swung by the market and picke3d up a half-pound of Neuske’s applewood smoked bacon, a block of cheddar, and a bunch of chives. Everything else I had on hand.







In order to make quality pizza at home you need a pizza stone, and in my opinion, one of these^^ things. It’s a circular grate. I bought it at a kitchen supply wholesale place, but I’m sure they have them at the box stores, as well. I’ve only been using this for about 4 pizzas, and they just keep getting better the more I make. I took too long (I’m meticulous) with the first pizza I made on it, and the dough got stuck in the grate grooves, which sucked. After that I learned to put a sheet of parchment between the dough and the grate. The way it works is you make the pizza on this and put it in the oven on top of the pizza stone. Once it has par-baked, you pull the grate out from underneath the pizza and finish cooking the pizza on the stone. It works great!

    Baked Potato Pizza:

• 1 Pizza Dough
• Olive Oil & Garlic base (minced garlic, S&P, a little cayanne, dried basil, maybe some dried italian herbs)
• A good amount of equal part shredded cheddar and mozzarella (not too much; too much cheese ruins pizza!)
• Yukon or russet potato, precooked, and sliced thin
• 1/2lb bacon, sliced pretty thin, cooked halfway. I bake mine in the oven (see this post)
• caramelized onion (see this post)
• baby spinach (optional)
• chives



Preheat Oven to 550º (some people say you should let the stone heat up for at least an hour)

Roll out the dough, and then stretch it to your desired size. If you go all out and get one of the grates, you should just stretch it to that big. Mine is a 15″ diameter one. Place a sheet of parchment between the dough and the grate, or work quickly. Spread a layer of the oil & garlic on the dough, covering as much area as possible. Then disperse the caramelized onions here and there along with a small bit of cheese. Add a layer of baby spinach, but not so much you cover the whole surface area. Spread the slices of potato around, covering essentially the whole pie, and then top with the remainder of your cheese. Finally, add the strips of bacon.

Slide the pie into the oven and let it bake for 5-10, checking occasionally to make sure that there aren’t any bubbles ballooning out of the crust. If so, pop them straight away with something sharp. Once the outer layer of crust just starts to brown, pull the pizza out, and carefully remove it from the circular grate. Return it to the pizza stone, and bake for about another 10 minutes, or until the crust is a deep auburn brown, but just before it starts to char. I finish mine off by cranking up the broiler for a minute or two, so that the cheese, and in this case, the bacon crisps up just a bit much more. Finish with some finely minced chives. Oh, man, this is a good pizza. Enjoy!

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Cooking Photography Portland Sustainability Uncategorized

Momofuku Ramen Bowl

Right up front, I don’t know hardly anything about noodle bowls, but come to find out this one is pretty slammin’! During the course of making this, I also found out that there’s ’nuff David Chang haters, but also more than enough folks on the other side of the fence in the clash. I’m not into the war, but I am into sick cookbooks. I’d been toying with the idea of picking up Momofuku for a bit now, but cookbooks cost some serious coin. I’d flipped through it a couple of times, but this last time I flipped to the page with shrimp and grits on it and couldn’t resist. Matter fact, I went out and bought a bag of grits too! But I digress, this post is about the Ramen bowl, which basically consist of the first 7 or so recipes in the book that are all dag easy, excepting that the broth took forever.







I’m about following recipes they way they’re written the first time I do them, so I followed this bugged out criteria that called to bring two sheets of Konbu (dried seaweed paper) to a boil then to let it steep for 10 minutes, before I took those out, and put in two cups of dried shiitake’s, brought it back up to a boil, and let it simmer for somethink like 30 minutes, before I removed those and put a whole chicken in the pot and let it poach for an hour. If someone knows and can explain the logic of doing all this in stages and would like to share their knowledge, I would be pleased to receive it! In the future, I’ma just put all that shit in the pot at the same time and save myself an hour of pot-watching.







During the hour that the bird’s poaching, you’re meant to roast 5 lbs of meaty, meaty pork bones in a hot hot oven. I came so close to buying some fancy pork bones, at my fancy butcher, but luckily they were out. I went back to the asian market where I should have bought them in the first place, and when I rolled up on the meat case they had a massive, just massive pile of neck bones piled up in the first sub-segment of the case. They looked straight brutal when they were whole. The kind lady saved me a good deal of chopping by insisting that she cut them down for me. The above bag/spread was originally 3 huge neck slab pieces that didn’t even remotely resemble necks. Later when I got home I come to find out the book calls for neck bones as the best possible meaty bones to use, so I was feeling pretty chuffed about that–all the more so as I slid the baking sheet into the oven and the house was quickly over-taken by the aroma of fatty caramelized meat-nugget goodness.



But as shamefully satisfying as that was, the recipe for this broth calls for an equally shameful foil. Yo, they want you to put 1lb of smoked bacon up in this broth for 45 minutes, then toss that shit. For real. Of course, I didn’t throw it out. The bacon slab is just lamping up in my fridge right now. It’s just that I don’t understand so many things about this ramen broth, but I’m doing them anyway! I am blindly making this rich, luxurious broth, and, hypothetically, flippantly discarding huge chunks of perfectly good bacon meat. I feel like writing a letter demanding a rivision!



But that’s what you’re supposed to do—-once the chicken is poached, and the bones are browned, you pluck the chicken from the broth, and the bones take it’s place, along with the bacon. Pull the bacon after the 45 minutes, and set the bones to a gentle simmer for upwards of 7 hours, replenishing the water level from time to time. In the last 45 minutes throw in a halved onion a couple chopped carrots, and a bunch of scallions. Then strain it. That’s the Ramen Broth. The recipe is supposed to yield 5 quarts. Now, I know what your thinking: WTF a boiled chicken. Word, ya’ll. I had one of those on my hands.




As the bones and bacon began to simmer away, I got to work on pulling all the meat off of the chicken carcass, and somewhere along the way I thought: Why. . . Khao Man Gai! We have a fantastic food cart in Portland that’s called Nong’s Khao Man Gai that’s serves this as it’s only dish. Nong’s admittedly blows my attempt out of the water, but it still turned out really tasty as an on-the-fly dish. It goes like this: You poach a chicken, then you make some rice with the poaching liquid. In the meantime, mince up some ginger, garlic, a chili pepper, some vinegar, some sugar, and some miso paste. I did all that in my little mini-Cuisinart food processor. I made some rice with the ramen broth when it was finished and put it together with some chopped chicken, and the above garnish, and maybe an extra small ladle of broth to moisten it up a bit. So good and so simple!







Having cleared the bones of most of their meat, I set to using them to make Taré or Japanese Barbecue Sauce. I love preparations like this because they just look so fucking evil! It a dark, pungent cauldron of broken bones—so visceral! Taré is made by roasting some chicken bones in a hot oven for about an hour, then transferring it to the stovetop to deglaze the fond before, in the case of this recipe, combining and bringing 1 cup sake, 1 cup mirin, and 2 cups light soy sauce to a gentle simmer, allowing it to reduce to a slightly syrupy consistency. It’s finished with a few twists of fresh black pepper. Stated: this is the saltiest concoction of all-time! But that’s what it’s used for here—to season the ramen broth. It lends a rich, smokey quality that is definitely unique, but you have to go easy with it. The saltiness is no joke.







Meanwhile, I had a nice piece of wild boar belly that I’d thoroughly rubbed down with equal parts kosher salt, and sugar cold chillin’ in the fridge. I used boar belly because all my go-to places were actually out of pork belly, which is insane! Pork Belly has been getting soooo popular, but no doubt, ’cause it’s hard to fuck -up because of the high fat content, and is just so so tasty! Any way, my man Dave down at the Hawthorne Pastaworks hooked me up with a 3lb piece of boar belly. I cut off a portion of it to make some bacon, and roasted the rest. The instructions call to roast it at 450º for an hour, then to turn the heat down to 250º, and slow cook it for another hour and a half. I guess you could say it turned out a bit on the crisp side, but I kind of liked it that way. It wasn’t charcoal black or anything, and I thought that once it was in the ramen bowl, and mixed in with everything else, that it lent a nice flavour component. For a further technical discussion on this check here, as well as the rest of the blog. In any case, this stuff is good. A little denser than your typical pork belly, I think, but no less satisfying. On one level, I think it might even be better. It was fine substitute. In order to get precise slices of, it is recommended to put it in the fridge for a few hours after cooking so that it can solidify, then after slicing to fry it up in a pan. Try to save some for the Ramen!







By far the trickiest part of all this was the technique for poaching eggs in their shells, which works, and works well. I had to shoot a bunch of runny egg oysters before I got it right, though. The book says that they need to be in a water bath between 140 and 145º for about 40-45 minutes. As you can see, my thermometer is basically spot on 140, maybe 139º, and that’s where I held it for 45 minutes, but when I cracked my first egg to check it out, the damn thing was a runny mess. I ended up letting them bathe for almost an hour and a half, fidgeting with my (electric) stove’s nob until I hit on a number closer to 145. Eventually, I popped one open and it was perfect. I think those few degrees make a huge difference! So if you try this, err closer to 145º! But it works, it works! You can have perfectly poached eggs right from the shell!







This is the killer. I will probably always have this in the refrigerator now. This is beyond simple: Take a piece of pork shoulder as big as you like, and rub it down completely with an equal mixture of kosher salt, and sugar—and any other spice you think might be good, if you want to. Put it in a baking dish covered with plastic overnight in the fridge. In the morning, dump out any of the juice that way have accumulated, and and set the oven to 250º. Put it in the oven, and go to work or something. It’s got to be in there for about 6 hours. When you come back to it, just tear a piece off the salty-sweet crust and say it’s not killer!











That just about covers everything on the cooking side, except for a fresh veggie or two. I used some sugar snap peas because I had them. The other components used for garnishes are scallions, nori paper, sliced bamboo shoots, which the book calls to stew in a bit of sesame oil and light soy sauce with a chili (but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. They’re still bamboo shoots outta can. I’m not really feeling them, myself)—and that weird fishcake stuff, that I’m usually NOT down with because it often comes in these humongous slices, but I was OK with this time because I found a slim, little bar of it only about as wide as a nickel. It’s the thing with the pink swirl, which is also nice. Also, I didn’t make the noodles from scratch, and I bought a bag that may or may not have been authentic ramen noodles, but they looked the most ramenish of all the many noodles that were on display. As can be seen in the pic above, I’ve got everything ready to go, I just have to throw it in the bowl. Bow! Boil the noodles! Drain the noodles and put a huge portion in the bowl, and ladle 2 or more cups of broth into it, then add all the other components: 3-4 slices of pork belly, a good mound of pulled-pork, a helping of sliced scallions, and the bamboo shoots, your delicious seasonal vegetable of choice, a few rounds of the fish cake, a couple sheets of nori paper, and your perfectly poached egg. Also, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re hungry! As in straight-up starving, because this is so much food! Finally, I went for a run about 4 hours after I ate this, and that was a big mistake. Plan on being ridiculously full for the rest of the time that your awake if you ever make this—matter of fact, it will probably put you to bed!



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Uncategorized

Rillettes





This one is pretty easy, but it requires a lot of rendered fat, which you could either buy or save up, if you were inclined to make some rillettes. All you have to do is take one pound of pork belly, cut into about 1/3″ slices, and one pound of pork shoulder in 1″ cubes, put it all in a pot, wrap up some thymeand a couple bay leaves in some cheese cloth, warm up the rendered fat until it is liquified, and pour it or the top. Bring it all to a gentle simmer, and then put it into a 250º oven for a long ass time, or 4 to 6 hours.







You’ll know when it’s done because the cuts will be straight falling apart. According to the River Cottage Meat Book, what you want to do at this point is cut up the meat long ways, with the grain, and season as you go. They call for salt, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and the instructions call for allspice, but I didn’t have that so I used pumpkin spice instead. The idea is to play with the spice levels, until you find the right combination for you.







I know, I know. . . it looks kind of, or, I mean, exactly like tuna fish. But it taste way different! I swear! It’s richer, and perhaps most importnatly for all ya’ll haters out there, there’s not a lick of mayonnaise in it, not one bit! this wasn’t quite the consistency I was going for, but I was in a bit of a hurry, and I think I might have taken directions from Ruhlman’s Charcuterie a bit too far–that is, I put all the meat in my stand-mixer, with about a half-cup of the fat and hit it real hard and long with the paddle attachment. This method kind of beat it down too much for my taste. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s bad, only that the texture should be better, because the flavor is actually amazing. The best way to eat rillettes, to me at least, is on toast, with an incredibly sharp mustard. The cornichons (if you like pickles, and haven’t tried cornichons, you have to try them–they’re so small, but pack such an incredible punch) and greens are optional, but they certainly round out the flavors.







Resources: Pork belly and pork shoulder by tails and trotters, arugala and cornichons purchased from Pastaworks; french baguette from little t bakery; mustard by Beaver Brand.

Link to Recipe only blog: Catastrophysicist Cooks

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Uncategorized

Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon Except on Porkroids

A Provençal Daube







Turns out that, traditionally, a daube is prepared with the meat of a bull recently killed in a battle to the death. I didn’t know that until a little while ago, otherwise I might have sought out some bull beef shank. However, I wouldn’t say that I settled, necessarily, because I used this incredible stew beef from Piedmontese. If you click through the link, you will clearly see that these Myostatin breed cows mean business. Clearly, beef is not beef is beef. It’s an art, a science–it’s an attitude!

I love doing a good braise, and there is absolutely nothing more satisfying than your apartment (or house, ya’ bastards!) slowly giving way to the intensely rich aroma of a slow cooked stew. It’s a perfect way to spend a cold, dreary day because it warms your home in so many ways. That’s why I could not delay in making this recipe for A Provençal Daube from The River Cottage Meat Book, not that we host dreary days here in the Pacific Northwest, or anything.




(click on this picture for measurements, quantities, and preparations)



The above picture shows all of the ingredients that go into the Daube: beef, bacon, pork rind, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, peeled tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, minced orange peel, white wine, beef stock or water, and salt & pepper–all relatively pedestrian ingredients, with perhaps the exception of the pork rind. You could definitely find all of these ingredients in any supermarket, but I encourage you to seek out and buy from a good quality butcher, selling sustainable, and clean products if you are able to. One of the reasons to buy better quality beef is because of a stage in the harvesting process known as hanging. I never even considered this when buying meat until I started reading this book. Hanging is important because it allows the beef to release a good deal of it’s water content; essentially it dries it out a bit. However, perhaps the more important aspect of hanging is the promotion of certain enzymes that act to relax and tenderize the meat. You’ve probably seen the stickers on the more expensive beef at the supermarket that advertises it as being ‘Dry-Aged’—that’s what this is. It used to be par for the course, but has been more-or-less eliminated by industrialized beef. The process is simple enough, you hang the carcass in a cool, climate-controlled environment for a month or two, but the only thing it really requires is also the problem it presents to those producers: it takes time, and these guys are interested in getting it onto the market, and making way for the next wave of cattle. Instead, they charge a premium for something that should be par for the course. All of this is probably less pressing when it comes to a braise, but it is never-the less critical in that it is the correct way to prepare the meat. To me, making the product the best that it can be is an honorable tribute to the animal.







One of the things that blew my mind about this recipe was the inclusion of pork rind a.k.a pig skin, however, it seems to be a key ingredient in this type of dish; it’s right there in Juia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, after all. You can see it frying up there in the picture to the left. Looks real good there, don’t it? Frying up in the pan, all greezy and what-not. I’m at the stove trying to brown these little squares of pig skin up, you know, and when I would try and flip ’em, they would *pop* back up out the pan, and land on where they started. The damn things were incorrigible! There is more commentary to come on the pork rind, but, in the meantime, let’s say a word for Bacon. If you’re like me, than you like bacon with just about everything. The bacon I used is made by Neuske’s, a company that specializes in Applewood-Smoking. This is a consistently delicious bacon that I buy regularly, and highly recommend it. In the case of the daube, it imparted a delicate smokiness to the over-all flavor profile, which was actually an unexpected, though welcome, surprise.



Once you have all of your ingredients together and a large casserole or dutch oven handy, this is indeed where the cooking begins. . . with a handful of pig-skin squares. Pre-heat the oven to 250º, and I recommend having a good-sized splatter screen to hide behind. Take those bad-boys and start to frying them in two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan large enough to spread ’em out, so that there’s not any over-lapping or crowding. If yours are like mine, they’ll be jumping and bouncing all around the pan in a debaucherous pork dance. Remove them from the pan to the dutch oven before they crisp up too much. Next up, leaving the fat from the pork rind, take the bacon pieces and carefully add them to the pan, and fry them up till they’re a nice golden brown. The bacon should be a bit more tame than the rind. Once it’s finished, remove the bacon to the dutch oven as well.







Next up is the beef. We are leaving the fat in the pan for this stage, also. If you think it’s necessary, pat the beef dry with a paper towel before adding it to the pan in order to remove any excess moisture. Three pounds is a lot of beef, so it is of the utmost importance to brown it in batches. If you throw it all in at once, it will drastically reduce the temperature of the oil and the pan, and will not fry up well at all. The goal here is to put a beautiful dark brown crust all around the meat, or most of it anyway. So, lay the pieces of meat in the pan with a good amount breathing room between each of them. Once the pan is full, up the heat, until they’re really sizzling, flipping the pieces once they’re nice and brown, and lower the heat a bit as well. Do this in batches until all the meat is browned, removing it to the dutch oven as you go.







Once all of the meat is cooked, all of the work of the dish is basically finished, all that is left is to de-glaze the frying pan, and add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Turn the heat up on the pan, with all that fat and grease in there and everything (this is the porkroids part), and add about a quarter of the wine. Scrap up all the little bits and pieces, and once you think you’ve got them all add the rest of the wine, and bring to a boil, reducing it just a touch. In the meantime, add all of the other vegetables and herbs to dutch oven. Once the wine is ready, pour it into the pot. Then, heat up the beef stock, or water, in the same manner, and then pour that into the pot also. The liquid should come to about 3/4″ above the ingredients. If not, than add a little more stock or water. All that remains is to put a lid on it, and put in the pre-heated oven, and let all go to work for 3 to 4 hours.



Let me tell you, this dish was amazing! Gabrielle and I managed to allow it to ‘rest’ overnight, indulging in just the smallest taste, before devouring at least half the pot the following evening. The rest is optional, but it’s universally believed that allowing a braised stew such as this one to rest overnight allows the meat to settle down from the cooking, and to re-absorb the juices to the point of saturation. I always let it rest, but it certainly isn’t necessary. However, if you do, allow it to re-heat very slowly, and bring just to a gentle simmer. We enjoyed this with some pappardelle pasta, and a crust french bread, perfect for sopping up all of the tasty juices! Some type of potato would be a good choice, too. The beef was beyond tender, it simply crumbled under the knife in a rich avalanche of lusciousness. The large pieces of braised bacon were a revelation. They remained whole, intact, and unbelievable tender. And then the sauce. . . it was just perfect. Down the road, I would definitely make this dish again, but with one caveat. Next time, I would prepare it with the pork rind in big pieces, rather than the small squares, so that I could remove it and discard after it was finished. They just became too soggy, and I just didn’t care for it, personally. Gabrielle, on the other hand, thought it was fine. Finally, I came too far to front. I prepared some fresh vegetables for the picture below. It was the third re-heating, and the other ones were spent, color-wise. I needed that fresh, vibrant look, and few more veggies wasn’t a bad deal either!







Resources: Beef from Piedmontese and pork rind purchased at Laurelhurst Market; Neuske’s Applewood-smoked bacon and San Marzano tomatoes from Pastaworks; carrots, onion, celery, orange and garlic from Limbo; Napa River Sauvignon Blanc and pappardelle from Trader Joes



Link to Recipe only blog: Catastrophysicist Cooks

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Strictly for the Ladies


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!

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Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches Photography Uncategorized

Pork Belly Reuben

PBRSquare



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.

PorkBellyInFatAfter 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.



PBRonBlack

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I Ate a Goose Egg, Yo!

gooseeggcracked



gooseeggbreakfast

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Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches

Fried Green Tomato Bacon Lettuce and Tomato

The Fried Green Tomato Bacon Lettuce & Tomato with Goat Cheese Spread

fgtblt

One of my favorite sandwiches of all-time is the FGTBLT. I saw it for the first time on the menu at the Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC while my girlfriend and I were bicycle touring through the state, but I failed to order one then and there. However, the idea stuck with me, and once I was settled again (in a place with a kitchen) I endeavored to make this sandwich for lunch one day. It has quickly become an obsession, and I usually commit to making them whenever I see Green Tomatoes for sale somewhere, as they were at the farmer’s market the day before yesterday. My sandwich differs from most others that I’ve seen on menus here and there, including Hominy Grill, because I include fresh tomatoes, as well as the fried ones. Here I will describe how I make these giants of the sandwich world.

Ingredients: Green Tomatoes, Fresh Tomatoes, Thick-cut Bacon, Lettuce, A Good Loaf of Bread, Goat Cheese, a splash of heavy cream or milk, Flour, 2 Eggs, Panko (bread crumbs), Canola Oil, Spices

To begin, the Bacon:

dsc_1421

When I cook bacon, I cook it in the toaster oven, and there are a number of reasons why. The first is because of the uniform nature this method facilitates. Each slice come out equally crisp, and shaped almost exactly alike from piece to piece. The second is because I always save my bacon fat, something I recommend that everyone who loves bacon do, and this method leaves the fat relatively clean compared with pan frying. Bacon fat is great for SO many things, including sautéing, biscuits and gravy, and if you save enough, confit. I could go on: Save your bacon fat! And the third reason is because it’s easy to clean up.

This is what you do: Turn the toaster-oven on to 375º, line the mini baking sheet included with tin foil (or if you don’t have one, just shape the tin into a pan), fit as many pieces as will fit or you want to make, and then put it in the oven and let it bake until it reaches your desired crispiness. This is how it comes out:
hoverbacon

I know, it’s undeniable.

Now for the Green Tomatoes:

greentomato

You will need one bowl with flour in it, a second bowl with the two eggs, lightly beaten, and a third bowl with the panko. If you don’t know what panko is, it is Japanese-style bread crumbs. They are the kind I prefer, but use whatever you like. I usually throw a bunch of herbs and spices into the panko, such as minced parsley, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper–use whatever you like–and then mix it up really well. Another good addition is parmesan cheese. I use parmesan in this recipe, but it’s not essential.

Take the tomatoes, core them, and slice them very thin, say a 1/4″ or so. Next is the assembly line process: 1. Dip each slice in the flour, shake off the excess. 2. Dip the slice in the egg, shake off the excess. 3. Cover and press the panko mixture into the tomato slice. 4. Set breaded tomato slice aside. Repeat until you lose your mind, or you run out of slices, whichever comes first.

Next, heat a large, heavy skillet on the stove at medium-high heat with about 1/4″ inch of canola oil. A good way to gauge when the oil is ready for frying is to place a couple of un-popped popcorn kernels in the pan and wait for them to pop. When they pop, the oil’s ready. Start frying! Place the tomato slices around the pan, but don’t crowd them, stick to four at a time. This is to insure that the tomatoes don’t reduce the temperature of the oil. Check to make sure they are frying evenly, and if not rotate them, and if they appear to be cooking too fast, reduce the heat a bit. Once they are golden brown on the one side, flip them over, and do the same on the other. Add more oil as needed. Lay the cooked tomatoes on a paper towel to soak up some of the excess oil. When they’re all done they should look something like this:

friedgreentomatoes

Making the goat cheese spread is a breeze. Simply take a good portion of soft goat cheese, add a splash of heavy cream or milk, and whip it together until it reaches a smooth consistency. Don’t buy goat cheese spread! It costs twice as much, and this is just as good! You can even mix in herbs to your own liking.

Finally, all you have left is assembly. Toast the bread if you like it toasted, slice the fresh tomatoes, tear off a couple pieces of lettuce, spread the goat cheese on the toast, and stack it as high as you dare!

fgtblt