Porky perfection: probably very bad for you — but a world without bacon?

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

Bacon, also known as pork belly, is but one incarnation of pig fat in its most sublime and unctuous form, uninhibited by too much lean. In the right hands, it is among the most delectable -if not heart-stopping -indulgences you might imagine.

Pork belly may not be good for human beings (didn't do much for the pig, either), but we love it anyway -brined, braised, sliced and crispened in most any way you may imagine, in a Saturday morning fry-up or in a fine restaurant.

Confit of Pork Belly

Makes about 5 pounds (2.2 kg)

1 pork belly, about 5 to 7 pounds (2.75 kg) 4 cups (1 L) kosher salt

1/4 cup (50 mL) white sugar 2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 teaspoons (10 mL) fennel seeds 3 cups (1 L) or more, rendered duck fat or lard (i. e.: Tenderflake)

1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 1 large Spanish onion, chopped coarse

For the glaze:

1 cup (250 mL) apple cider

1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar 1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dry mustard Dash, soy sauce

Cut belly into 3-to 4-ounce (110-g) portions. Combine salt, sugar, crumbled bay leaves, fennel and rub into all sides of pork; cover refrigerate overnight, or up to 12 hours. Meat will release liquid as it marinates.

Remove pork from the mixture and rinse thoroughly; pat dry. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish.

In a large, heavy ovenproof pot, melt fat slowly until liquefied, then pour over pork. Add garlic, onion, ensuring the meat is completely submerged in fat. Cover and place in centre of preheated oven at 300 F (150 C) for 3 hours. After 3 hours, lift lid and check for tenderness -pork should be fork-tender but not falling apart. Remove from oven and carefully remove each portion of belly; strain and refrigerate or freeze fat to use another day. Cool bellies until they are firm. (At this point, you may cover bellies completely with fat and refrigerate up to 3 months. It gets better with age.)

Combine glaze ingredients and set aside. To reheat, place pork portions skin-side down on a baking sheet (with edges, to catch drips) lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven at 400 F (200 C) until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with the glaze. Serve with: Molasses baked beans.

Source: Chef Steve Mitton, Murray Street restaurant

Pancetta

Makes 1 pound (450 g)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) coriander seeds 6 black peppercorns

5 juniper berries 1 bay leaf, crumbled

1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons (30 mL) salt

1 tablespoon (15 mL) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound (450 g) pork belly, tough outer skin removed

In a dry, heavy pan on medium heat, gently toast coriander seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaf just until fragrant, but not darkened by the heat.

Transfer with garlic to mortar and pestle (or bowl of a small food processor) and crush to medium-fine. Add salt, brown sugar and nutmeg and mix well.

Place a large square of plastic food wrap on the counter; place pork on wrap and rub with half of the spice mixture on each side. Roll pork tightly in the plastic wrap and seal the edges; place in a glass baking dish and refrigerate to cure 36 to 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the belly. Note: Pork is cured when it feels quite firm at the thickest part when pressed with your fingers. When cured, wipe off the meat and give it a quick rinse with cold water. Pat completely dry. Roll in additional crushed peppercorns or dried chili, if desired, for extra bite.

Place a large square of triple-thick new cheesecloth on the counter, then either tightly roll pork in a traditional log shape in the cheesecloth, or leave flat and wrap to ensure cloth completely encloses the meat. Tie with butcher twine at 1-or 2-inch (2.5-to 5-cm) intervals, as for a roast, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) piece of twine free at one end.

Hang the meat in a dry cooler at 38 F (3.3 C) or from a shelf in the refrigerator so it is free to complete the dry-cure process for 2 weeks, or until firm to the touch. Remove from cheesecloth; pancetta is ready to use.

Source: Chef Andrew Skorzewski, Tulips & Maple

Porky perfection: probably very bad for you — but a world without bacon?

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

Bacon, also known as pork belly, is but one incarnation of pig fat in its most sublime and unctuous form, uninhibited by too much lean. In the right hands, it is among the most delectable -if not heart-stopping -indulgences you might imagine.

Pork belly may not be good for human beings (didn't do much for the pig, either), but we love it anyway -brined, braised, sliced and crispened in most any way you may imagine, in a Saturday morning fry-up or in a fine restaurant.

Confit of Pork Belly

Makes about 5 pounds (2.2 kg)

1 pork belly, about 5 to 7 pounds (2.75 kg) 4 cups (1 L) kosher salt

1/4 cup (50 mL) white sugar 2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 teaspoons (10 mL) fennel seeds 3 cups (1 L) or more, rendered duck fat or lard (i. e.: Tenderflake)

1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 1 large Spanish onion, chopped coarse

For the glaze:

1 cup (250 mL) apple cider

1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar 1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dry mustard Dash, soy sauce

Cut belly into 3-to 4-ounce (110-g) portions. Combine salt, sugar, crumbled bay leaves, fennel and rub into all sides of pork; cover refrigerate overnight, or up to 12 hours. Meat will release liquid as it marinates.

Remove pork from the mixture and rinse thoroughly; pat dry. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish.

In a large, heavy ovenproof pot, melt fat slowly until liquefied, then pour over pork. Add garlic, onion, ensuring the meat is completely submerged in fat. Cover and place in centre of preheated oven at 300 F (150 C) for 3 hours. After 3 hours, lift lid and check for tenderness -pork should be fork-tender but not falling apart. Remove from oven and carefully remove each portion of belly; strain and refrigerate or freeze fat to use another day. Cool bellies until they are firm. (At this point, you may cover bellies completely with fat and refrigerate up to 3 months. It gets better with age.)

Combine glaze ingredients and set aside. To reheat, place pork portions skin-side down on a baking sheet (with edges, to catch drips) lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven at 400 F (200 C) until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with the glaze. Serve with: Molasses baked beans.

Source: Chef Steve Mitton, Murray Street restaurant

Pancetta

Makes 1 pound (450 g)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) coriander seeds 6 black peppercorns

5 juniper berries 1 bay leaf, crumbled

1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons (30 mL) salt

1 tablespoon (15 mL) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound (450 g) pork belly, tough outer skin removed

In a dry, heavy pan on medium heat, gently toast coriander seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaf just until fragrant, but not darkened by the heat.

Transfer with garlic to mortar and pestle (or bowl of a small food processor) and crush to medium-fine. Add salt, brown sugar and nutmeg and mix well.

Place a large square of plastic food wrap on the counter; place pork on wrap and rub with half of the spice mixture on each side. Roll pork tightly in the plastic wrap and seal the edges; place in a glass baking dish and refrigerate to cure 36 to 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the belly. Note: Pork is cured when it feels quite firm at the thickest part when pressed with your fingers. When cured, wipe off the meat and give it a quick rinse with cold water. Pat completely dry. Roll in additional crushed peppercorns or dried chili, if desired, for extra bite.

Place a large square of triple-thick new cheesecloth on the counter, then either tightly roll pork in a traditional log shape in the cheesecloth, or leave flat and wrap to ensure cloth completely encloses the meat. Tie with butcher twine at 1-or 2-inch (2.5-to 5-cm) intervals, as for a roast, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) piece of twine free at one end.

Hang the meat in a dry cooler at 38 F (3.3 C) or from a shelf in the refrigerator so it is free to complete the dry-cure process for 2 weeks, or until firm to the touch. Remove from cheesecloth; pancetta is ready to use.

Source: Chef Andrew Skorzewski, Tulips & Maple

Porky perfection: probably very bad for you — but a world without bacon?

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

Bacon, also known as pork belly, is but one incarnation of pig fat in its most sublime and unctuous form, uninhibited by too much lean. In the right hands, it is among the most delectable -if not heart-stopping -indulgences you might imagine.

Pork belly may not be good for human beings (didn't do much for the pig, either), but we love it anyway -brined, braised, sliced and crispened in most any way you may imagine, in a Saturday morning fry-up or in a fine restaurant.

Confit of Pork Belly

Makes about 5 pounds (2.2 kg)

1 pork belly, about 5 to 7 pounds (2.75 kg) 4 cups (1 L) kosher salt

1/4 cup (50 mL) white sugar 2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 teaspoons (10 mL) fennel seeds 3 cups (1 L) or more, rendered duck fat or lard (i. e.: Tenderflake)

1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 1 large Spanish onion, chopped coarse

For the glaze:

1 cup (250 mL) apple cider

1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar 1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dry mustard Dash, soy sauce

Cut belly into 3-to 4-ounce (110-g) portions. Combine salt, sugar, crumbled bay leaves, fennel and rub into all sides of pork; cover refrigerate overnight, or up to 12 hours. Meat will release liquid as it marinates.

Remove pork from the mixture and rinse thoroughly; pat dry. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish.

In a large, heavy ovenproof pot, melt fat slowly until liquefied, then pour over pork. Add garlic, onion, ensuring the meat is completely submerged in fat. Cover and place in centre of preheated oven at 300 F (150 C) for 3 hours. After 3 hours, lift lid and check for tenderness -pork should be fork-tender but not falling apart. Remove from oven and carefully remove each portion of belly; strain and refrigerate or freeze fat to use another day. Cool bellies until they are firm. (At this point, you may cover bellies completely with fat and refrigerate up to 3 months. It gets better with age.)

Combine glaze ingredients and set aside. To reheat, place pork portions skin-side down on a baking sheet (with edges, to catch drips) lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven at 400 F (200 C) until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with the glaze. Serve with: Molasses baked beans.

Source: Chef Steve Mitton, Murray Street restaurant

Pancetta

Makes 1 pound (450 g)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) coriander seeds 6 black peppercorns

5 juniper berries 1 bay leaf, crumbled

1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons (30 mL) salt

1 tablespoon (15 mL) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound (450 g) pork belly, tough outer skin removed

In a dry, heavy pan on medium heat, gently toast coriander seeds, peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaf just until fragrant, but not darkened by the heat.

Transfer with garlic to mortar and pestle (or bowl of a small food processor) and crush to medium-fine. Add salt, brown sugar and nutmeg and mix well.

Place a large square of plastic food wrap on the counter; place pork on wrap and rub with half of the spice mixture on each side. Roll pork tightly in the plastic wrap and seal the edges; place in a glass baking dish and refrigerate to cure 36 to 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the belly. Note: Pork is cured when it feels quite firm at the thickest part when pressed with your fingers. When cured, wipe off the meat and give it a quick rinse with cold water. Pat completely dry. Roll in additional crushed peppercorns or dried chili, if desired, for extra bite.

Place a large square of triple-thick new cheesecloth on the counter, then either tightly roll pork in a traditional log shape in the cheesecloth, or leave flat and wrap to ensure cloth completely encloses the meat. Tie with butcher twine at 1-or 2-inch (2.5-to 5-cm) intervals, as for a roast, leaving a 6-inch (15-cm) piece of twine free at one end.

Hang the meat in a dry cooler at 38 F (3.3 C) or from a shelf in the refrigerator so it is free to complete the dry-cure process for 2 weeks, or until firm to the touch. Remove from cheesecloth; pancetta is ready to use.

Source: Chef Andrew Skorzewski, Tulips & Maple