Crispy Confit of Pork Belly with a Sour Apple Salsa

I loooove pork.  I especially love fatty pork – hence my obsession with pork belly.   And what a better way to cook it than in its own fat!

The first time I had the pleasure of eating pork belly slowly poached in its own fat for hours and hours was at the Gilead Cafe (Jaime Kennedy’s hip spot in Queen East).  I honestly can’t even remember the accompaniments on the plate because I was so infatuated with every bite of the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pork.

I was inspired by my experience when developing a menu for one of my client’s later that month.  The belly is a comparatively heavy piece of meat when it comes to pork (which these days is too lean in my opinion) – exemplified in its most common use: bacon.  In order for the belly to be edible by most people’s standards, the thick layers of fat nestled between the rich meat must be rendered down.  By poaching the pork belly in its own fat, it cooks in its own rich flavours and becomes supremely tender.

With most meat that has been confit-ed, you always want to add a tart, sweet and sometimes acidic component to the dish to balance out the richness of the fat.  In this case, I serve the confit-ed pork belly with a sour apple salsa, made from granny smith apples, some apple cider vinegar and a touch of maple syrup.

TO CONFIT PORK BELLY:

Salt & Pepper your pork belly the night before.

Preheat your oven to 200 F.  Buy enough lard to cover your pork belly completely.  Melt the lard in a saucepan/pot and add your spices (bay leaf, thyme, cloves, garlic).  Add the pork belly in rather large pieces (to be cut after it’s been cooked).  Bring the lard to a simmer and place in the oven for 6-10 hours depending on the size of your pork pieces.

You will know it’s ready when you can stick a fork in it with ease and the meat pulls away easily.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Thomas Keller’s Creamy Lobster Broth

This is probably one of the easiest and most delicious hors d’oeuvres I have ever come across.  As mentioned in earlier posts, I am not one to use recipes – ever.  The thing I love so much about being a cook is that I can have fun with ingredients and be creative every step of the way, whether I’m making a sandwich or a five course meal.

I must say, however, that Thomas Keller‘s cookbook, The French Laundry, is the best I’ve ever read.  It is more than just a recipe book – even though it does include some amazing recipes.  It is a story about food and Chef Keller’s love for it and that’s why I love reading it.

The following recipe for Creamy Lobster Broth is to die for.  Although incredibly simple in preparation, it is not such in taste.  The rich flavour of the lobster is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else.  Please, next time you have a couple of lobster bodies laying around, do yourself the favour, and MAKE THIS DISH.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup           canola oil

3                      raw lobster bodies (cut into quarters, no meat)

1 1/2 cups      chopped tomatoes (use canned unless in season)

1/2 cup          chopped carrots

1 bunch         tarragon

2 cups            heavy cream

NOTE: this is a very rich soup and is best served in small portions, as a canape/hors d’oeuvre

Heat oil in a large rondeau, or deep straight-sided braising pan.  Add the lobster shells and sear over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes per side, until they turn red.  Add the tomatoes, carrots, and tarragon, cover the shells and vegetables with water, and bring to a boil.  Skim off any impurities that rise to the top.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Strain the stock thorugh a large strainer or a China cap, smashing the lobster bodies with a wooden spoon to extract all the liquid and then strain again through a chinois into a clean saucepan.

Return the strained stock to the stove and simmer until it is reduced to 1 cup.  add the heavy cream, return to a simmer, and cook, skimming occasionally, until the broth is reduced to 2 cups.

To serve: place broth in a saucepan and whisk vigorously over medium heat to froth.  The broth should have a beautiful pink colour.

When we serve this hors d’oeuvre at personal chef events, we serve is with a tarragon crisp as shown in the picture.

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,