Porchetta is as much a cooking technique as it is a particular recipe. This one uses a pork belly but can be done by butterflying a pork butt or tenderloin. The pork belly came from the butcher as a slab about 10 inches by 22, I cut this in half so I was working with a piece 10″ x 11″.The first step is to score it like so – it helps the herbs and spices gain penetration. I sprinkled kosher salt liberally on the slab and followed that with fresh grinds of pepper.Next came black peppercorns and fennel seeds that were toasted in a dry pan, ground in a spice mill, then added to a dozen or more garlic cloves in a little food processor. They were whirled about to mince the garlic and then spread on the meat, the fresh herbs were processed to a paste and spread along with the garlic mixture, followed by the zest of 2 lemons. I wish my patio herb garden had survived, I had to go to town for the herbs: rosemary, chives, sage. I also bought a fennel bulb for the fronds to add to the other herbs.Last thing, before it spent the night in the fridge, was to rub it with salt and baking powder in a ratio of 1 tbs salt to 1 tsp of baking powder. This is to help crisp the skin. Ta Da! This was cooked in a 300 degree oven for about 4 hours, then taken out to drain the fats off. While it’s out, crank the oven to 500 and return the pork roll to really blister the skin, it wants to be crispy! Watch it closely, it will brown really fast in that screaming hot oven.I mentioned that I bought a fennel bulb just for the fronds but I hate to waste a food item and so tried a braised fennel recipe. First, slice the bulb into about 1/2″ slices long ways, and brown both sides in a little oil. Add chicken stock and water to the pan, sprinkle on salt and pepper, cover, and simmer until tender – another 15-20 minutes.Serve the fennel with fresh parmesan and garnish with more of the fronds.
Amazon tempted me with one of their lightning deals on some silicone muffin trays. I’m pretty easy. These corn muffins from smittenkitchen looked like a good way to test drive them.The method was interesting, 1/2 cup of cornmeal was simmered in the milk until it started to look like porridge, then cooled slightly in a bowl in which the rest of the ingredients were added in their turn. The cup of sour cream was a nice touch.Two eggs were the last of the wet ingredients added before the dry mixture was folded in.The resulting batter was pretty stiff. The cookie dough scoop worked great in portioning between the dozen cups. It wasn’t the perfect size so I did have to top off the cups by eye.I’m not sure how long these were in because I forgot to set a timer. These passed the toothpick test.Mmm… red beans cooked with a smoked ham hock – a perfect way to enjoy these perfect corn muffins.
Made the tomato soup from a big can of those San Marzano tomatoes. I found a couple of 280z. cans in the bargain basket at Kroger a while back and this last one sat in the cupboard till I had this flash of inspiration.
Mince a carrot and half an onion and sweat them down in butter in a sauce pan. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the veggies and stir for a minute, then add chicken stock and a can of tomatoes. Season with celery salt, a pinch each of nutmeg, ground cloves, and black pepper and bring to a simmer for half an hour or so. Let cool a bit, then puree in a blender or with a stick blender. I like the stick blender because it’s easier to clean up. Add more chicken stock if it looks too thick. Some folks like to add cream right before serving but I never did eat it that way.
I was 6 hours into a crockpot beef and vegetable run when my mind was changed by the memory of those delicious chicken dumplins. I put back the veggies and several ladles of gravy for a dish TBNL.
The soup is a plain potato soup – no cheese or cream, I made it small to eliminate leftovers, there are three peeled red potatoes, half a medium onion, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in chicken broth. The potatoes were diced small to hasten cooking and I used a potato masher to help it along. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour.
I had a turkey breast that made a couple of plates worth of sliced turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce, and still had enough for a turkey salad. It has mayo, green bell pepper, Spanish olives, celery, and the other half of the onion from the soup.
We saw this on one of our TV shows, the diner guy chopped a pork tenderloin into smallish pieces, put them into a small hotel pan, and started adding marinade ingredients. I scribbled them down as best I could because we had just bought a tenderloin and this looked like a great recipe: Olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. He said cover and refrigerate for a week. OK. We nearly forgot it because it was in the basement fridge but we got it out in time.I wish I had let the grill heat better but I was afraid to overcook the meat. I brushed it with garlic oil while it was on the grill and that really flared up. I did manage to get a touch of brown on there. It was really tender, and the garlic was prominent. I think the long marinade in lemon/lime juice had o lot to do with tenderizing it.I served it over a bed of wild rice with a side of Brussel sprouts and corn sauteed in duck fat.
These two bird spent about 5 hours in the electric smoker and turned out great. First 4 hours were at 225, I cranked it to 250 (max for this unit) as supper approached. Peach wood all the way. They both were rubbed with a dry mixture that I keep on hand. I make my own but can’t really provide a recipe because I’m always adding to it. Most any of these recipes will work fine.