Archive for the ‘Meat / Poultry’ Category

Pork rillettes

20 October 2011

I’ve been in the mood recently to serve a somewhat more elaborate apéritif, tapas style, when we invite friends over for dinner. It’s convivial and frees up last minute cooking time since I then usually skip the first course.

A typical apéritif includes marinated olives. Cherry tomatoes, radishes, or daikon radish depending on the season. Cashews or almonds, which I’ve just learned to dress up by roasting them with some spice. For something more substantial, I’ve often made salmon rillettes or chicken liver terrine. But as I was delving into Moro The Cookbook, I found this Spanish pork rillettes recipe.

French rillettes don’t usually include overt aromatics. They taste like pure, unadulterated pork, in fat. They are delicious. This recipe uses pimentón (Spanish paprika), fennel, and sherry alongside garlic and bay. It’s different from the rillettes I knew; it certainly is no worse.

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I reduced the amount of pimentón for a more subtle flavor and added a note about the leftover pork fat, but otherwise the recipe is that of Moro the Cookbook.

2 lbs (1 kg) boneless pork belly

1/2 lb (225 g) pork back fat

6 garlic cloves

1 heaped tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)

2/3 cup (150 ml) fino sherry

Sea salt and black pepper

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Preheat oven the 275°F (140°C).

First trim the rind from the pork belly, then cut the meat and fat into roughly 2 x 1 1/2 inch (5 x 3 cm).

Prepare the aromatics by roughly chopping the garlic cloves; in a mortar, lightly crush the fennel seeds and peppercorns; halve the bay leaves.

Place the pork and fat in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves, paprika, sherry, and a good pinch of salt, and toss well with your hands to combine. Transfer to a 2 quart  (2 liter) earthenware terrine or heavy cast-iron pot, seal tightly with foil so no steam can escape, and place in the oven for at least 4 hours, until the meat is very soft and can be shredded easily.

Remove from the oven and strain the meat in a sieve, pressing with a spatula or spoon to release the juice.

Put the liquid aside to cool, then in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and solidifies.

Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, shred between your fingers. **This is best done when the meat is warm rather than cold, as it will become more difficult to shred.** Set aside any pieces of fat that have not melted away (see note).

When the fat on top of the juice had somewhat solidified, spoon it off and set aside. Add all the juice and 2 tablespoons of fat to the shredded meat. Mix well, season with salt and pepper, and put the meat back into the terrine or other earthenware or glass jar. Pack the meat gently and seal with a layer of fat about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick.

Keep in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before serving, and up to 2 weeks if well sealed with fat.

Note: You could discard the leftover fat, but it seemed a shame to do so, so I placed it in a small skillet over very low heat, letting it melt further. I then strained the fat and kept it in the refrigerator, to be used on bread instead of butter. The pieces of fat that remained solid, brown and caramelized, we ate — just like that.

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Related posts

Cookbooks | Moro The Cookbook (Roasted almonds with Spanish paprika)

Chicken liver terrine

Slow-roasted pork shoulder (or butt)

2 March 2011

The long story of the slow-roasted pork shoulder starts in 1998, when I acquired my first cookbook: the River Cafe Cookbook Two (Yellow). The word at the time was that this wonderful cookbook not only had delicious recipes, but that they all worked. Indeed, this and the other River Cafe Cookbooks have been my number one go-to cookbooks over the years. I love the recipes and they always worked out very well.

For these past twelve years, the recipe for a slow-roasted shoulder of pork has smiled up at me, enticingly, from page 248, but I never tried it. One of the reasons was that I rarely ate pork, and never cooked pork, mainly because I could not find good pork. Until I discovered it at Union Square market; Flying Pigs Farm has single-handedly transformed me into a cooker of pork.

But I still didn’t make the slow-roasted pork shoulder. After so many years, the recipe seemed frozen in the forbidding aura of “I will make this one special day” dishes.

As I recently became somewhat fixated on slow-roasted lamb shoulders, and slow-cooked things in general, I gathered the necessary momentum to try the promising, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious slow pork. And it didn’t work. The recipe calls for “dry roasting” on an open rack in the oven. The flavor was amazing and the crackling skin predictably perfect, but the meat wasn’t falling off the bone. It was tasty and not forbiddingly dry, but not what I had expected. Since I had only been able to cook it the minimum suggested amount of time (8 hours), I decided that must be the problem. So I tried again. I cooked the second pork shoulder some 18 hours. Same result.

Rather than try to cook it even longer (the recipe says 8-24 hours), I decided to look elsewhere. Surely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall must have a failproof slow-cooked pork in his River Cottage Meat Book. Alas, the recipe basically starts: “Actually, versions of this dish have already been enthusiastically championed by both the River Cafe and Nigella Lawson” and proceeds to give the same cooking method. Not helpful.

Now I really did acknowledge that the problem must be me, but I just wasn’t convinced that cooking the pork even longer would have done the trick, and how many pork shoulders need I bungle before the winter is over?

So I perused my cookbook shelves for a different recipe, one that cooked pork in a closed dish. And, not surprisingly, found it with David Chang. His cookbook Momofuku‘s pork shoulder for ramen has a simple salt/sugar rub, but I was looking for cooking time and temperature.

The answer is 6 hours at 250°F (120°C). It was perfect.

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The quantities below are for a piece of meat of approximately 6 lbs (3 kg). The seasoning should be adjusted according to size, but the cooking time remains the same.

Note from March 2012: I have revised the cooking method. I believe starting the pork on low is a better guarantee to completely and deliciously tender meat, and finishing on high assures a crisp outside.

1 bone-in pork shoulder or butt

8 garlic cloves

2 Tbsps Maldon sea salt (1 Tbsp if using regular salt)

6 Tbsps fennel seeds

Freshly ground black pepper

3 small dried red chilies

2-3 Tbsps olive oil

Juice from 3 lemons

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Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).

In a mortar, crush the garlic together with the salt, add the fennel seeds, a generous amount of back pepper, the crumbled chilies, and mix with the olive oil to create a thick paste.

Remove the skin and trim some of the fat. Cut deep, long gashes into the pork on all sides. Fill the gashes with the herb/spice mixture and rub all over the pork and place in an ovenproof dish with a lid (such as a Le Creuset dutch oven), then pour the lemon juice over the pork.

Cover with a tight fitting lid (or seal with aluminum foil) and cook in the low oven for 5 to 6 hours, basting occasionally.

(Optional: Finish by increasing the oven to 450°F (230°C), take off the lid, and brown on high heat for 20 to 25 minutes.)

Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for about 30 minutes before serving.

Note: Like most slow-cooked dishes, this pork will taste even better reheated. So if planning ahead, cook the pork on low the day before for about 4 1/2 hours to 5 hours. Let it cool slowly and once cold place it in the refrigerator. On the day you plan to serve the dish, reheat the meat at 250-300°F (120-150°C) for about 45 minutes, then turn up the heat to crisp up the outside as shown above — 450°F (230°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, as needed.

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Related post:

Lentils

Slow-roasted lamb shoulder

Heritage turkey with apple chestnut stuffing

29 November 2010

Back from a lazy long weekend here is the recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey – with plenty of time until next year, or a head start for Christmas if turkey happens to be on your menu.

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Apple chestnut stuffing

I am not bound by tradition when it comes to stuffing, so I don’t consider it essential to include bread. This recipe was initially inspired by a goose stuffed with lady apples but has evolved quite a bit.

For a 16-18lb (7-7.5 kg) turkey:

1 large bunch parsley

2 handfuls fresh thyme

2 handfuls fresh sage

10 thick slices bacon

800 g (5 cups) whole peeled cooked chestnuts

8 medium-sized tart apples

5 medium-sized red onions

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pick leaves from herbs and discard stalks. Set aside.

Place half the slices of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is brown and crispy on one side, turn over until brown and crispy on the other. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan.

Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters, then cut each quarter in half crosswise. Brown apples in bacon fat for 3-5 minutes over high heat.

Crumble 2/3 of the chestnuts, leaving about a third whole, and add them all to the apples. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Chop the thyme and sage and add to the apple/chestnut mixture. Transfer to a bowl.

Place the remaining slices of bacon in skillet over medium heat and repeat browning process. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan. Slice onions and cook them in bacon fat until translucid and just starting to brown. Add to apple/chestnut/herb mixture.

Chop bacon, chop parsley leaves, add to the rest of the stuffing, season generously with salt and pepper, and mix carefully.

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Heritage turkey

I don’t make turkey often enough to have acquired proficiency in roasting the birds, but they have usually turned out anywhere from quite fine to fairly spectacular. I am refining the technique, one turkey a year at a time, to hit the high moisture marks every time. These are the steps I followed this year, with decent, though improvable results. 29 November 2010

Note from 25 November 2011: I edited the recipe slightly and reduced cooking times after another Thanksgiving turkey cooking adventure this year.

16-18 lb (7-7.5 kg) heritage turkey

Butter

Coarse gray sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Stuffing

Take the turkey out of the refrigerator well in advance (for example before you start making the stuffing), so it has time to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C).

Once the turkey is at room temperature, separate the skin from the breast meat and rub softened butter onto the breasts. Season the inside of the turkey, then spoon the stuffing into the two cavities, front and back, and sew shut with kitchen string. Rub the skin on all sides with a generous amount of coarse sea salt and black pepper, and tie legs together with string.

Place turkey in a roasting tray, breast side down, and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up and roast for another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F (150°C), add a little water at the bottom of the pan, and roast for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer* inserted in the inner thigh registers 150°F (65°C). While the turkey cooks, place a wet muslin cloth over the breasts and baste over the cloth and legs regularly, adding water to the juices if needed. Remove the cloth after about 3 hours to allow the skin to become very crispy.

Let the turkey stand for 45 minutes. Meanwhile reduce the juices and make the gravy, but I won’t tell you how because I prefer to just reduce the juices, keep them piping hot, and pour them over the meat before serving. (Full disclosure: I have asked willing guests to make gravy in the past couple of years, and I must admit it was very good — maybe next year I will tackle the sauce myself).

Check for doneness at the joints of the thighs and legs: If they are still uncooked (juices running bloody), return to the oven, and cook for another 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Carve and serve breasts, thighs, and legs.

*I acquired a thermometer unintentionally when the owner of Flying Pigs Farm gave me one at the market one day. He was obviously nervous I might overcook the beautiful loin roast I had just bought from him. I must admit the thermometer came in handy for the pork, and is very useful for turkey.

Chicken liver terrine

8 October 2010

I love this recipe for many reasons: it’s absolutely delicious, quick to make, can (or rather should) be prepared in advance, and, well, it’s liver. I find all sorts of excuses to make it. Tomorrow it will be lunch in the country; it’s been good for parties or Easter brunch; but more simply it is the recipe upon which I fall back when we have friends for dinner and I am undecided about what to make. It helps unlock my imagination and inspires the rest of the meal. Most often I serve it with baguette as a tapas-style apéritif together with olives and nuts, radishes or cherry tomatoes – depending on the season.

***

1 lb (450 g) chicken livers

3/4 cup (180 g) and 2 Tbsp (20 g) butter

1 small onion (or large shallot)

Olive oil

1 large sprig each sage and thyme

1 Tbsp Madeira wine (Marsala also works well)*

1 Tbsp brandy

Salt and pepper

***

Trim the fat from the chicken livers and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt 3/4 cup butter over low heat. Once melted set aside.

Finely chop the onion (or shallot). In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter together with a little olive oil (the oil prevents the butter from burning). Add the chopped onion, cook over medium heat, and as soon as it becomes translucent add the whole sage and thyme and stir to mix flavors. Immediately increase the heat to high and add the chicken livers. After a couple of minutes the livers should be slightly brown; turn them over. Sprinkle the Marsala and brandy over the livers and cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

When the livers are cool enough to handle, remove the sage and thyme, transfer to a cutting board, and chop finely. Place the livers in a bowl, add the scrapings from the skillet as well as the melted butter and mix well. Transfer the livers to a terrine dish (any bowl will do) and place in the refrigerator for a few hours and up to two days. It gets better after a day or so.

*The absence of Madeira or Marsala absolutely should not keep you from making this recipe. Just replace with a little brandy. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity to buy the wines, which deserve to be kept in your bar or pantry and will come in handy, for example when making stewed pears (recipe to come later this year).

Braised chicken legs with cherry tomatoes

3 October 2010

Tomatoes were everywhere at the market this week. Red, yellow, cherry, heirloom, green – it was hard to concentrate on anything else, especially knowing that tomatoes will be the first to disappear from the fall bounty. When I got home I realized I had bought only tomatoes.

The little cherry tomatoes from Keith’s Farm were very ripe and burst from the sun, and they immediately brought to mind a meal prepared by my friend Kate a few years ago: braised drumsticks with cherry tomatoes and lots of garlic. She made it in a large round earthenware dish she had just brought back from Morocco. It was stunningly beautiful and delicious. I’ve never asked Kate for the recipe but I have attempted to recreate it and make it quite regularly.

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For 4

Olive oil

8 chicken thighs and drumsticks (or alternatively, only thighs or only drumsticks)

2 medium onions (red or yellow)

Cherry tomatoes

7 or 8 whole garlic cloves with skin

2 bay leaves

Fresh basil, marjoram, or oregano according to taste or availability

***

Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C)

In a large skillet heat olive oil and brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time. **When browning meat it’s important not to overcrowd the pan (the meat releases water and if the pan is too crowded it will stew rather than brown) and to let the meat get really nice and brown, which might take 7 to 10 minutes (light golden is not enough to caramelize and bring out the flavors).**

Remove chicken legs and set aside.

Thinly slice onions and add to pan in which you just browned the chicken (with a little more olive oil if necessary). Season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden.

In a large ovenproof dish make a bed with the onions,* add bay leaves and herbs, then the pieces of chicken, which should fit snugly without overlapping. Season with salt and pepper. Poke the cherry tomatoes with a fork or tip of a knife so the juice can escape, and throw them with the garlic cloves over the chicken. Season again. Place in oven and let simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. The meat should fall off the bone.

*To limit the number of pans used and if the skillet is ovenproof, leave the onions in the skillet, add the herbs, chicken, tomatoes, and garlic, and slide it in the oven.

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Related posts

Roast chicken with lemon and fennel seeds

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, mozarella, and basil

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