pork butt

Best Snack – Ever !?

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Pork Rinds, Pork Skins, Pork Scratchings, Pork Crackling, Chicharrones, Scrunchions, Oreilles de Christ, Chicharrón, chicharrón con Gordo, Gratons, Khaep Mu,  Tóp Mỡ, škvarky,  Grieben, Griaba, Torresmos,  Couratos,  Knabbelspek, Flæskesvæ, etc, etc, etc.
Fried pork skin is eaten in most if not all areas around the world where pork is consumed. (Many other animal skins, ears and intestines are also used to make cracklings, but today I just want to talk about pork skins, most widely known as Chicharrones, but also by the many other names listed at the beginning of this post.
I sometimes buy them ready-made in bags and have found a few very good brands in the supermarkets around here, especially in the Latin-Markets. But nothing comes close to the freshly made homemade stuff, still warm and with a texture, flavor and aroma which you just don’t get from a bag. I happened to have some pork skin in the fridge which I removed from a pork butt I cooked yesterday, anticipating the chicharrones I wanted to prepare today. (I usually cook the butt skin-on).
However, pork skin is widely available from butchers and markets so you should have no problem sourcing it.
The process is very simple :
To fry the skins, use duck fat, pork fat or peanut oil. Simmer the skin in salted water until very tender, drain, let dry for a couple of hours. Cut into strips or cubes and fry at low temperature until very crisp. Remove to absorbent paper and season to your liking. Just plain kosher salt will do, but you can experiment with additional seasoning, such as cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, curry powder, za-atar, old bay seasoning, or my favorite,  five spice powder, which I have used in today’s dish. I also like to sprinkle finely sliced scallions and chili flakes over the cracklings and use a dipping sauce of chili oil and hoi sin sauce.
WARNING !!!!
I recommend to cook the chicharrones outside in the open air; splattering of fat WILL occur !
In any case, no matter if you cook the chicharrones inside or outside, cover the fryer 3/4 with a lid while frying to minimize the fat going all over the place and possibly ignite on the hot stove.

To sum it up – making chicharrones at home is like making love :
– if you know what you are doing, the rewards can be wonderful 🙂
– if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might get burned 😦
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Chicharrones

Chicharrones

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Chicharrones

Chicharrones

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Japanese Pork, Korean Rice Cakes And French Beans (Teriyaki Feast)

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While  the ingredients for this dish (and the cooking methods) are not exactly a traditional combination, for my personal palette they compliment each other perfectly. They are typical for the dishes I prepare for myself at home. On the other hand, would I still cater to guests at a restaurant or at home, I would not hesitate to serve this kind of food as a course in a multi-course menu. (As I have done many times).
Having been trained in and practiced for most of my career classic French cuisine, as well as garnering experience in local cuisines around the globe, this type of “fusion cuisine” has become  my personal cooking style. Nowadays, cooking mostly for myself, a few close friends and the occasional high-end private gig, I don’t have to confirm to traditional cuisines anymore; – my food has become truly a fusion of dishes, methods and ingredients from around the world. Mind you, I don’t try to make my food appear haphazardly strange or exotic on purpose, but sometimes that’s the result when mixing without restraint 🙂
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
“Teriyaki” in this dish refers to the teriyaki sauce as part of the dish, not the traditional cooking method.     Click for  Teriyaki
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Japanese Pork, Korean Rice Cakes And French Beans

Japanese Pork, Korean Rice Cakes And French Beans

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Japanese Pork, Korean Rice Cakes And French Beans

Japanese Pork, Korean Rice Cakes And French Beans

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Standard cup board items in my kitchen:
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Pulled Pork “Havana Loco”

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havana
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For  most of my life I detested the very idea of pulled pork. My professional training as a cook had taught me that if something falls apart, it is overcooked and therefore non grata. In addition, the pulled pork I was introduced to during my early years in the USA was almost always smoked for many hours, then completely inundated in (most of the time crappy) “bbq sauce”.
The whole thing seemed to me to have the texture and taste of some lousy half-smoked cigars mashed-up and mixed with ketchup and vinegar, more often than not served on a limp, tasteless burger bun. As a result, for many years I stayed away from pulled pork.
This changed when I got to travel in Latin America and in Latin American-circles, where pulled pork took on a very different dimension, one which I was finally able to wholeheartedly embrace. Usually braised in the oven for hours, with lots of cilantro, lime, garlic, various citrus juices and sometimes the addition of onions and/or chilies, the pork tastes lively and fresh, not at all heavy or greasy or overly sweet. Usually, it is served with white rice and yucca or a simple salad and most of the time with some kind of spicy, vinegar based condiment.
Below find my own take on pulled pork, as I imagine I would serve it at my imaginary, popular nightspot in a Havana of long-gone times, with hot girls dancing to the Rumba, Mojitos flowing freely and eating, drinking, dancing, making love and enjoying life being the only thing on everybody’s mind……………..
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Bon Appetit ! Life is Good !
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Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork “Havana Loco”

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Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork “Havana Loco”

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Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork “Havana Loco”

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Kümmelbraten ( Caraway Pork Roast )

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I wish  I would have been able to get a pork neck for this dish, but I couldn’t, so I used the next best thing, a pork butt (shoulder). For pork steaks and roast, I prefer the neck, because in my opinion the flavor and texture is far superior to any other cut of the pig. However, the butt is also a great cut to roast or braise, so at the end I was happy with what I got.
This dish is very common in the south of Germany where I grew up, so whenever I prepare this dish it alway’s brings back happy memories of a more simple time in my life. But on Friday when I cooked this, I had Daryl and Leo over for dinner, so it was a happy meal after all.  (Some wine and rum also made sure of that) 🙂

Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Kümmelbraten  (roast caraway pork)

Kümmelbraten (caraway pork roast)

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Pork butt (shoulder)

Pork butt (shoulder)

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Pork butt (shoulder)

Pork butt (shoulder)

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Pork butt, knuckle removed

Pork butt, knuckle removed

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Knuckle

Knuckle

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Seasoned with mustard, thyme, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and caraway seed

Seasoned with mustard, thyme, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and caraway seed

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Place on a rack above red wine and beer, add chilies, scallions and tomatoes, roast at 420 F for 30 minutes, turn down to 270F cook for three hours

Place on a rack above red wine and beer, add chilies, scallions and tomatoes, roast at 420 F for 30 minutes, turn down to 270F cook, for three hours

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Add potatoes, cook for another hour or until potatoes are soft. Remove meat, cover lightly and let rest thirty minutes

Add potatoes, cook for another hour or until potatoes are soft. Remove meat, cover lightly and let rest thirty minutes

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Meanwhile, remove sauce, potatoes and vegetables to a small pot, add tomato paste and simmer for fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer sauce, potatoes and vegetables to a small pot, add tomato paste and simmer for fifteen minutes. Check/adjust seasoning and texture of sauce

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Kümmelbraten  (roast caraway pork)

Kümmelbraten (caraway pork roast)

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Kümmelbraten  (roast caraway pork)

Kümmelbraten (caraway pork roast)

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” Schweinebraten Madness ” ( Lot’s Of Butt )

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It was alway’s a mystery
to me why Americans call a pork shoulder a pork butt.
However, pork butt (shoulder) seems to be one of the most revered
cut’s of meat around the world, at least in cultures where religious
motives don’t forbid the consumption of pork. ( I wish there there would
be the same restriction on consumption of dog meat, in ANY religion).
Since I live alone with Bella for the time being, cooking a whole butt would
have been too much for one meal, even for Bella and I.   🙂
So, I had it on three consecutive evening’s and I id not get bored of the
repetition by the same main ingredient at all, even though I did not
transform the meat into different dishes, such as stir fry, salad, soup, etc.

The first night I enjoyed it straight from the oven, accompanied just by
apple sauce and sour dough bread. The meat was still slightly pink, although
the butt was in the oven for five hours. I usually don’t like pink pork meat
because of it’s texture and temperature, but these slices were piping hot and
the texture was great.

The second night I made potato dumplings to go with it, to mop up the unusual
jus I made from the drippings and served it with horseradish cream and chimichurri.

The third night I just could not resist but have pasta , again to mop up the jus
but also because after three day’s, serious pasta-withdrawal symtoms started to appear.
All in all, three day’s of great dinners with a minimum of effort but a maximum
of satisfaction. ( Chew on that, Mick Jagger   🙂
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First portion, day one

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Second portion, day two

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Third portion, day three

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Ingredient’s :

Pork butt,                 skin and fat scored,
(knuckle removed for another dish)
Kosher salt,             to taste
Cayenne,                  to taste
Garlic powder,        to taste
Onion powder,       to taste

Method :

Rub butt on all sides generously with the seasoning,
roast at 425 for thirty minutes, turn down to 260 and
cook for four hours. Turn up heat to 425 and cook for
another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for
at least 30 minutes in a warm place before slicing.
If you like to cook your meat to a complete well done,
add another one to two hours at 260 degrees, depending
on the size of the butt.

Jus :

Deglaze  roasting pan with white wine, strain and remove
to a small sauteuse. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, rasted garlic paste,
scotch bonnet hot sauce, maggi seasoning and apple sauce and simmer
until well combined.

Potato Dumplings :

Ingredient’s :

Potatoes,                  Boiled, riced, dried overnight
Egg,                           whole
Egg,                           yolk
Salt,                           to taste
Cayenne,                  to taste
Nutmeg,                   to taste
AP flour,                  as needed

Method :

Mix all ingredients without overworking or the potatoes will get soft and gooey.
Form tennis ball sized balls, add to boiling salt water, return to a boil for one minute.
turn down heat and slowly simmer until dumplings are cooked through,
about 45 minutes.
You might want to remove one and cut in half to make sure they are done.
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Ingredients for potato dumplings

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Dear friend’s,  here we have a typical example for the reason why I usually
don’t include measurements in my recipes . It is almost impossible to give the
EXACT proportions of the ingredient’s of the dumplings. There are too many
variables, such as the exact size of the eggs, the ratio of the yolk to the white,
the exact moisture content of the potatoes, the amount of starch in the particular
potatoes used, etc. Those variables are the reason why folk’s who rely on
following recipes to the dot will usually be blessed with very mixed results.
Remember, most recipes in savory cooking should be used as guidelines,
mixt with practice, practice practice. That’s one of the reason we have so
many young chef’s failing to do simple dishes to perfection, because without
practice and a thorough understanding of the influences of temperature,
moisture and many other factor’s, cooking great and near perfect dishes is mostly
a game of chances (as sadly proven around the world on a daily basis in a sea of
lousy restaurants) with food prepared by what I call recipe cook’s who, in most
cases, don’t understand the basics of our great profession.

So, there you have it, my opinion.
Sorry recipe cooks, you must add practice to your recipe’s. No way around it.
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Guten Appetit !   Life is Good !
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