Categories
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 My Favorite Sandwiches Photography Uncategorized

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

PorkTenderloinMoneyShot



This one is Pork Tenderloin Confit, with Braised Cabbage, Applesauce, and Blue Cheese, on a Brioche Roll. When I first came up with the idea for this, I thought to myself that it was a late fall kind of sandwich, Sunday dinner on a roll. Well, it could be, but it also proved to be a Saturday spring picnic in the park kind of sandwich. Strange but true, it was both, depending on whether it is prepared hot or cold. Another thing that struck me was how similar it is to the last sandwich I made, the Pork Belly Reuben. It’s almost like the two are fraternal twins or something, except this sandwich was a star pupil and a model citizen, while the other had a penchant for 8 balls and hookers. But they both turned out alright, and no, I haven’t forgotten we’re talking about sandwiches here.



PorkTenderloinRub



I turned to Charcuterie yet again for the rub in this recipe, and it was indeed this book that influenced the creation of this sandwich, with its talk of how confited pork loin is an “amazing cold cut”. I couldn’t resist the temptation so I bought a tenderloin from Trader Joe’s and rubbed it down, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for two days. To confit something is to poach it in fat; to fully submerge the meat in fat and to cook it at a low temperature for a long time, until it is fork-tender. This technique creates an incredibly rich, perfectly cooked product. The only trouble is that it takes a while. It’s not hard, though, on the contrary it is mind-bogglingly easy in terms of the results you can achieve. It does require that you keep a ton of rendered fat on hand. There is that: you have to be willing to keep a few pounds of fat in the fridge or freezer.



PorkTenderloinTrifecta



The Braised Cabbage and the Applesauce recipes come from the Chez Panisse Vegetables and the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbooks respectively. These are both wonderful books, and ones I turn to again and again for inspiration and guidance when I am faced with the conundrum of figuring out what the hell to do with God’s bounty. They rarely let me down. I make the braised cabbage all the time. It is so easy and a full-sized cabbage can last quite a while. It’s a wonderfully healthy thing to have on hand, and its great for dishing out a good old fashioned Ukrainian Gasmask to your better half. Making applesauce is even easier, and it’s interesting to mess around with different kinds of apples. The possibilities are endless!



PorkTenderloinCabbage



For the Tenderloin: you will need a piece of pork tenderloin as large or as small as you care to make. Combine 2 Tbls Kosher Salt, 3 Bay Leaves, 4 Garlic Cloves, a half bunch of Flat-leaf Parsley, 2 Tbls of Black Peppercorns, 1 Bunch of Sage, 3 Tbls Chopped Shallots, and a 1/2 teaspoon Prague Powder (pink salt)(not essential, but it draws out a lot of water). Pulverize in a spice grinder, or barring that, grind it up as best as possible in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Rub the mixture all over your tenderloin, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two days.

Pre-heat the oven to 200º. Unwrap the tenderloin and fit it into a large enough pot or dutch oven to accommodate the meat and enough fat to cover it. On the stovetop, bring the tenderloin and fat to a simmer before placing it into the oven. Cook for about 3 hours.

When the loin is done, remove from the oven, and allow it to cool in the fat. Then refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This will keep for weeks, so if your not up to eating it right away it will be there waiting for you. To serve you can do one of two things. In either case, you pull it out of the fat, but in the one case you slice it up and fry the slices in a pan, and in the other you heat the whole thing, or a piece of the whole thing, up just enough to get the excess fat to melt away, then slice it up cold. It’s awesome either way.

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 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 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.

For the Applesauce take as few or as many apples as you wish, so long as they aren’t mealy and flavorless, and quarter them, discarding the cores. Cut the quarters into half inch pices. Add a half inch worth of apple juice or cider to a pot on the stovetop and add the apples. Bring to a simmer, and cover, stirring occasionally, until cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. It can be as thick and chunky or as thin as you wish. That’s the applesauce.

To make the sandwich, all you have to do is combine these three things with a nice soft, crusty roll, and a sharp, tangy blue cheese to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the apples. I used a variety called Blue de Gex, but anything that has a real bite will do. I also add mayonnaise, but I think that’s an individual decision. It doesn’t really need it, but I thought it worked well to hold all the cabbage together, and thus give a more cohesive feeling to the sandwich. As I mentioned earlier, this can be prepared either hot or cold, depending on when you are eating it, and whether you are up to dirtying a bunch more dishes in order to make a sandwich. My girlfriend claims that this is the best of all the sandwiches I have featured here thus far. If you decide to try it, I hope that you agree!

One more thing. . . I’d like to give it a catchier name, but can’t seem to nail it. Any suggestions? The winner will receive my eternal gratitude!

PorkTenderloininHalf

Categories
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