Sunday, July 24, 2011


Well there really isn't anything better than bacon made from scratch.  At least not anything I can think of.  And really it is one of the easiest things around to make.  So here we go.....

Start by sourcing yourself some pork belly.  Any decent butcher should be able to get you a real nice piece. Quality does matter here though so try to use a good butcher if you can.

Then make yourself a basic cure.  I use the one in the book Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn.  All you need to do is mix:
1 pound of kosher salt
8 Ounces of sugar
2 Ounces of pink salt (your butcher should also be able to get you this, it also goes by cure #1 or prague powder

Any extra you have can be stored pretty much indefinately with all you other spices.
So to start off here is a couple slabs of pork belly that I sourced from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island
 There is no picture of the next couple of steps but all we do here is coat all of the belly on both sides and on the ends very liberally with the cure.  Then place the pieces in zip loc bags and toss them in the fridge for one week, agitating and flipping daily.

After a week take the belly out of the cure and rinse off the cure very thoroughly.  Then let it dry in the fridge uncovered for a few hours.  Now it is time to season it as you choose. My two personal favorite methods are peppercorn or maple.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the maple as I didn't do it this way on this occasion but here we go with a couple other flavors.  Remember the skies the limit when it comes to options here though.

For the peppercorn rub I used:
3 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
2 Tablespoons White Peppercorns
1.5 Tablespoons Pink Peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Green Peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon Allspice Berries
 Grind it very coarseley and rub the cured belly down really really well
  For our second belly we flavored it with a Baharat type seasoning consisting of:
2 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
4.5 Teaspoons Cumin
1 Tablespoon Coriander
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Cloves
A few Green Cardamom Seeds
1/2 Teaspoon of nutmeg
Then I added about 1/2 cup of guajillo chiles which I roasted and ground up with everything else to a fine powder

And rubbed down the second belly
On to the smoker we go, I put them on with only a few lit coals.  For wood a mix of hickory and maple is wicked with bacon.  I started the smoke out at about 100 degrees and worked it up to 200 degrees.

Off the smoker they come when the internal tem of the bellies hit around 140 degrees

Might as well slice up a little of the peppercorn variety!
And of course fry it up!
Nice and slow it the way with this stuff!
And we are all done and ready to eat it all up!

Smoked Salmon Ravioli

For a competition that we did back in April there was a salmon category.  Salmon was provided and it was anything goes.  Decided to try my hand at smoked salmon ravioli and see how things went. 

Anyways started by smoking the salmon.  Went with a hot smoke.  Brined the salmon in a simple salt and sugar brine, no added flavors for an hour.  Cooked with pear wood for about an hour, starting around 125 degrees and building up to 350.  Tossed it on beside a few racks of ribs we were making for a wee snack! 
 While the salmon was cooking we made some fresh pasta and rolled out a few sheets, it was a very simple semolina and water dough.  Basically just adding water to semolina until it would hold together and then kneading the dough until smooth.
 The salmon coming out of the smoker
 Chopped and deboned, then mixed with an egg as well as some heavy cream and a pile of fresh chives
 Put the rolled out pasta sheet into the mold and added the smoked salmon filling
 And here's our ravioli!

 After a quk boil we sauteed them in butter and a tough of oil, since the coals were so hot
 Now time for the sauce, mushrooms, garlic, and onions cooked down in heavy cream with more chives and a few grape tomatoes to add a little color!
 All finished and ready to be presented topped with a little Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
The dish came ut perfect just as we were after.  We didn't do as well as we hoped, we did get a call, I believe 5th place out of the 30 so still good enough I suppose!  We did do better in Chili, 2nd place!  A good day and good eats for us, even if we didn't win!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cheese Steak

Well we're not from Phili, we've never been there and we don't know anyone there......but we still wanted to make a cheese steak.  Definately not authentic I'm sure but it is damn good! 

We started by roasting a nice head of garlic
Now we turned that into some roasted garlic hummus.  For this we tossed the roasted garlic cloves with a can of chick peas, salt, white pepper, and a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil

With the spread made we had to make the buns.  We stuck with the no knead bread from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day"

For the basic buns you just combine:
2 Cups Water
.75 Tablespoons Yeast
.75 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Melted Butter
3.5 Cups Bread Flour
Then toss it into fridge over night, shape into sub bun shapes and let rise for about 45 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees
And after they baked for half an hour
Now we make a red wine beef broth to give the beef a bath a little later on.  We start by frying up 1 large carrot, 1 rib of celery, 1 large onion, and 3 cloves of garlic
Then I added a couple cups of red wine, a cup of beef stock and a tablespoon of thyme and let it all cook together
Then it was time to puree it all together
Now it's time to concentrate on the beef.  For this we used tri tip
This was a beautiful cut of meat.  Unfortunately we just couldn't cook it whole so we put it in nice little slices
And we grilled them up with a little salt and white pepper
After they were seared real nice on both sides we gave the beautiful slices a nice little bath in the red wine broth
Now to focus on the mushrooms, onions and the peppers.  We used 2 anaheims, 2 poblanos, 2 thai, and five serrano chiles as well as oyster mushrooms and a couple of small onions.
We started sauteeing the onion, then added the peppers and finally the mushrooms.

And for the final component, the cheese sauce.  For this I choose to use Oaxaca Cheese.
We mixed it with 1/4 cup of half and half cream over a double boiler and melted it down

And finally it all comes together.  Basically we have a homemade bun, smothered with roasted garlic hummus, then the red wine bathed beef, then the peppers, onions, and oyster mushrooms, and finally the cheese sauce.  This was the best sandwich any of us had ever had!