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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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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