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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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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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The World Is My Pork Chop

Pan-to-Oven Pork Chops with Garlic







My main culinary victim, Gabrielle, and I have chosen a rather suspect New Year’s Resolution this time around, and many of you may not believe it, what with the promise of this project, but I’ll tell you anyway. Our original plan was to only eat meat once a week, and thus in concert with one of the recipe’s in this book for each week’s meaty meal. However, we have since revised the resolution to include meat once a week at each of the three basic meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which sounds a little more reasonable, but from the perspective of this big ass poke chop in my belly, perhaps still a bit insane. But we’ll see how it goes. My premier recipe post from The River Cottage Meat Book is this wonderful, and really quite simple, pork chop recipe. To be sure, it is actually more of a technique than a recipe; one that works with incredible results. As Hugh writes, “the cheffy phrase for this is pan-roasting,” and it involves searing the meat on both sides for a couple of minutes on the stove-top, and then moving it into a hot oven to finish it off. It works for all kinds of thick cuts of meat, such as ribeye’s, or even whole chicken breast, and works so well because it widens the finish time for the meat a little bit because of the indirect nature of the heat inside the oven.







We are lucky to have a fantastic, relatively young pork producer here in Portland that goes by the name Tails & Trotters. As you can see in the picture above, they produce some pretty intense chops, and most of the other cuts I’ve seen from their operation have been equally exciting. The owner’s of the company, Aaron Silverman and Morgan Brownlow, started the venture with the intention of growing a superior animal in order to produce a high quality Northwest prosciutto, which I do not think is available for sale yet, but am eagerly anticipating. I am only just beginning to understand the thought and methods one has to devise in order to grow pigs (and all other meat producing animals, i’m sure) a certain way, and to a specific criteria, so I won’t try to explain any of the details quite yet. However, I will note that Tails & Trotters finishes, meaning to fatten-up before harvesting, their hogs with a heavy diet of hazelnuts, thus creating the beautiful, and actually quite healthy in moderation, fatty layers necessary for their prosciutto purposes. I hope to learn more about this company, and pork production in the months to come. In the meantime, this blog will certainly see the use of more Tails & Trotters pork!



To cook the chops, you will need a ton of garlic, 1 cup of white wine or hard cider, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat the oven to around 425 with an empty pan in there large enough to hold the chops, but small enough to prop up the fatty sides from out of the bottom. Very Important: Don’t forget that that pan is hot later on. In fact, never forget that anything coming out of the oven will be extremely hot. It happens, so I’m just reminding ya’ll. I’ve been burnt like that, and I know I’m not alone.Meanwhile, break apart a few heads of garlic, leaving the cloves in the skin. The book calls for 1 large head, or two small heads, but I recommend two or three times as much as that, as there never seems to be enough garlic to go around, and I’m talking about how there’s only two of us at the table, so if there were three or more peeps then you’d definitely want to up the garlic. Lightly crush the cloves under a knife, just enough to crack the skins, not to flatten them out-right. Heat up some Olive oil at medium, to medium-high heat in a pan large enough to accommodate the entirety of the chops flatly on the surface. Once the oil is sufficiently hot, throw in the garlic and toss it a round for a minute or so, then salt and pepper one side of the chops, move the garlic into a pile, and fit the chops into the pan. While the first side browns, salt and pepper the other side, and after a minute or two, flip the chops over, and brown the other side. Remove the hot pan from the oven and arrange the chops and garlic into it so that the fatty ends are up out of the bottom. This is to allow the heat in the oven to crisp up and caramelize the fat. Then, up the heat all the way in the original pan, pour in one cup of the white wine or hard cider, and scrap up all the brown bits and so on, and allow the liquid to reduce by about half. This is called deglazing, and it’s a cornerstone of sauce-making. Once the liquid has reduced, pour it over the chops, and into the oven they go. Allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, but never longer than 20, and that’s a wrap on the chops. The deglazed sauce will thicken up and blend with the pork fat and garlic, and act as a braise for the chops, ensuring that they won’t dry out even a bit. The garlic easily pops out their skins, and are nice and roasted, and as i noted before, there are never enough of these tasty, decadent morsels. Gabrielle says that these pork chops speak for themselves, and they do, yes they do.







I served the chops with braised cabbage and simple boiled potatoes. To make the Cabbage you will need a whole red or green cabbage, an onion, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and an apple. Take the cabbage, cut it in half and core it. Then, slice it as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Heat some sort of oil or (duck ) fat in a large pot or dutch oven, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Add the cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, the vinegar, and a half cup of water. If the cabbage doesn’t fit all at once, add it batches by allowing it to cook down for a few minutes. Once it is all in the pot, cover it and turn the heat down, and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take the apple, peal and grate it, and once the cabbage has braised for the alloted time mix it into the cabbage, and allow to cook for an addition 5 minutes. That’s the cabbage. It’s from Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Next up, after I recover from this pork chop, I am planning to do the Provençal Daube recipe, which is basically a light beef stew. In other words, it is another of the somewhat less adventurous recipes in the book. But just so you know, I’m only doing these ones to get warmed up–expect brains and a whole pig’s head in the future!



Resources: Pork Chops produced by Tails & Trotters and purchased at Laurelhurst Market, garlic and Samuel Smith Organic Cider from Pastaworks, Cabbage, Onion, Apple from Limbo, and Potatoes from Trader Joe’s

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