Friday, October 31, 2014

Crispy Pork Belly with Celery Root Puree – Three Fats Beat as One

Thanks to social media, food bloggers, and celebrity chefs with too much time on their hands, pork belly was/is all the rage. It’s a common site on menus across the land, and you can’t channel surf past a food show without seeing it.

It also helps that people are no longer terrified to eat a little fat, and that’s what I’m banking on with this pork belly recipe. Yep, turns out sugar and the simple carbs do the real damage, so belly up to the bar. Sure, the fat content is a tad high, but it’s no different than that your average sausage link, and when paired with a tart, aromatic, root vegetable puree, it doesn’t feel heavy.

In fact, I use a touch of extra virgin olive oil to accent the meat and celery root. Celeriac is delicious, but fat free, and even though I added a little butter, the grassy, peppery oil lends a bracing richness. The same goes for the crispy-edged pork belly, and the dish provides an opportunity to enjoy three great fats doing three different things. I thought this was amazing.

I recommend getting your pork belly with the skin removed. It can get supper tough, and I prefer to work with it on it’s own (see ChicharrĂ³n). We still get plenty of crispy goodness, and I want nice, tender, succulent bites; not something that’s work to chew.

As I mentioned, I will show you the celery root recipe in the next video, so stay tuned for that. If you just can’t wait, I’m happy to report that this can be served with all your favorite pork chop sauces and sides, so feel free to jump the gun, or root in this case. I hope you give this great fall appetizer a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 appetizer-sized portions :
1  1/2 pound pork belly, skin removed
season generously with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika
- Wrap as show and roast for 6 hours at 200 F. (*Note: I said 5 1/2 in the video, but my pork was almost room temp, so I’m adding 30 minutes since most people will use chilled meat)
- Chill, cut into serving sized pieces and crisp up in reserved fat before serving

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meringue Bones and Ghosts – Scary Easy

While I know no one is ever actually scared by the "spooky" Halloween treats you see posted this time year, I do know for a fact that many people are terrified to work with meringue. Hopefully, these bones and ghosts will help chase those demons away.

As long as your bowl is clean, and you don’t accidentally get any egg yolk in there, you should be fine. It may take a while, especially if you do it by hand, but if you keep whisking, eventually you should get a nice, glossy meringue that will hold a shape when piped.

Speaking of which, you can make this in any shape you want, in case you were thinking about trying to do a full skeleton (show off). Of course, different shapes may change the cooking time, but you’ll figure it out.  As long as your meringue feels firm and dry, you’re probably in good shape to let it cool in the oven.

By the way, I did these on a very humid day in San Francisco, and as they sat on the plate, they sort of stuck together a little bit.  They came apart fairly easily, but I wanted to ask our experienced bakers and candy makers if there’s a trick to prevent this kind of thing? Maybe some powdered sugar or cornstarch? Let me know if you have any ideas.

These are probably a little too time-consuming, delicate, and completely inappropriate to use for Halloween trick-or-treaters, but if you’re having a holiday themed party, these would be a hit. I hope you give these meringue bones and ghosts a try soon, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for  about 2 dozen small bones, or other shapes:
2 large egg whites, room temp (don’t get any yolk in it or it will not work!)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice
a scant 1/2 cup sugar (that means almost, but not quite full), added a spoon at a time, once the egg whites start forming a very soft meringue
* bake at 225 F. for 1 hour, then turn off oven and let cool with door closed another hour

Monday, October 27, 2014

Butt Seriously, Folks

The next video won’t be posted until Wednesday this week, as I’m taking a couple days off for a little medical procedure that men my age are recommended to get. Hair transplant? No, it’s much further down. 

That’s right, I’m going in for a colonoscopy, and as a minor YouTube celebrity, I feel it’s my duty to encourage all my fans and viewers over the age of 50 to do the same. I just skimmed the brochure, but apparently this simple test can save your life. 

Remember, the longer you’re around, the more traffic these videos get. So, if you’re my age and haven’t had one done yet, please contact your doctor and get it scheduled as soon as possible…and as always, enjoy!