These went from dry to done in just a couple of hours thanks to the Instant Pot pressure cooker. It probably could have been done quicker but I was a little leery of the cooking tables. I have a vague memory of being disappointed in some pintos I cooked following their data. I decided to simmer them for an hour then give them an hour in the cooker. They cooked in chicken stock with a chopped onion, bay leaves, pepper, salt, dried thyme, and a couple chunks of cured ham.
Most days we watch cooking shows while having lunch or dinner. I DVR shows so I can skip the commercials during playback. This dish caught my eye so I grabbed a notepad to scribble down the ingredients:
- pork belly
- brown sugar
- mushroom soy sauce
- black bean sauce
- oyster sauce
- sliced ginger root
- chopped green onions
- chopped white onion
- minced garlic
- fermented black beans
- sesame oil
- pickled mustard greens
There will be no measurements. I used about 1-1/2 pounds of pork belly cut into one inch cubes and pretty much eye-balled the rest of it, I started the video from the top and added the ingredients in the same order as the TV chef, a Jamaican with Chinese ancestry. His answers, when prompted for amounts by the host, were either “this much” or “that much there”.
The chef was asked how long will this simmer on your stove-top, but I couldn’t make out his reply. I think he said “till it’s done”.I was going to be making it in the Instapot pressure cooker so I set it for an hour.
The mustard green were added after the pork belly had cooked down.These came from the International Grocery, a store in a nearby college town. I was pretty sure they would have them, but I looked in the canned veggie section to no avail. I asked for help. The store clerk went right to them, they are in sealed plastic bags, he mentioned that they were very sour and needed a good soaking with changes of water so I started the soak the first thing. I also picked up the mushroom soy sauce and the black bean ingredients while there. Handy store!Chop the greens and add them to the pot after it cools down enough to open. I also thickened this the same way as the chef – a slurry of corn starch. When I make this again I will back off on the on the added water.
The TV show was “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the food network. The info for the episode said it was from season 4, episode 6, first aired 09/05/08. Alas, a search of the Food Network’s web page didn’t yield agreement, it says the the episode “A Taste of Everywhere” was from season 4, episode 7. Clicking on that episode link was no help in finding the recipe.
A Google search for recipes turned up numerous variations, most of them mentioned par-boiling the pork belly. There wasn’t any mention of that on the show but it may have been edited out. I went ahead and did it before cubing the belly:
Next time I’ll cube it first and boil it a little longer, that should reduce the fat a little in the end result.
Whoo Boy! We got some rain last night, the thunder seemed constant all night long. Bitsy just crawled out from underneath the sofa a few minutes ago.Here’s Gabe and Homer Kitteh messing about by the pond a couple of days ago. It’s been down a little all winter long, several inches below the overflow pipe. I haven’t looked this morning yet but it has to be up close, now.I’ve found that using a can of refried beans in my chili recipe really adds some body to it. I used refried black beans in this but the regular refries from pinto beans should work fine.I’ve been making gravy from the chicken fat captured when I roast a chicken beer-butt style:I pour off the fat (and the water I’ve added to the pan) and refrigerate it to make separating the fat easy. Make a roux of the fat and flour then add stock to make gravy. You can also add milk to make it creamy but I don’t except when making it for a pot pie. We eat half the chicken the first go, then bone the rest for later. The carcass goes into the pressure cooker to make a stock, takes an hour at pressure rather than all day on the stove-top.Kittehs! There are a couple of brand new momma cats at the shelter, they were brought in pregnant. The shelter will eventually spay her but the kittehs have to be weaned first. Mrs J says 6 to 8 weeks is normal.Rib steaks! Sous vide is the killer app for steaks. These spend the afternoon at 138 degrees in their vacuum sealed bags. Kroger sells whole slabs of these, I slice and bag them with salt and pepper and then freeze. They go right into the hot bath frozen.Another batch of cuties! Mrs J says they had to open the overflow kitten room because they have too many right now for the dedicated kitteh nursery.
I brought up a leg of lamb from the basement freezer and decided to go the pressure cooker route. It was a little over 4 pounds and fit nicely in the Instapot. I added 2 cups of broth and dusted the leg with a spice mix made up of garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, salt and pepper, and set the timer for 65 minutes per the table in Bob Warden’s cookbook (45 minutes plus 20 for frozen). Needing thin slices for a gyro, I cut them from the cooked roast and browned them in oil in a skillet, dusting them with more of the spice mix.That HDR software works pretty well on gyros, too! I used fresh dill in the tzatziki this time, and a squeeze of honey, otherwise it’s the basic Alton Brown recipe (sans mint).
In a slow cooker it’s an 8 hour project. It takes several hours to boil one atop the stove. In my Instapot pressure cooker it took 90 minutes for the meat, and the veggies just a few minutes. There is additional time involved reaching temperature, and some spent winding down but this corned beef was so good I ran back to Kroger’s for two more that I’ll cook today to chill and slice for sandwiches.
Valued commenter donnah mentioned in the pressure cooker gadget post that she found this cookbook to be worth purchasing. I ordered it and it came yesterday. The pork mole recipe caught my eye, we did it today. I hoped to find the recipe online so I could link to it. This one appears to be the same one but it doesn’t have any attribution. I don’t know who stole from who! Well, you can’t copyright a recipe, so no harm no foul.
I probably used too much broth and didn’t let it reduce far enough so the sauce is a tad thin, but it tasted great. I’ll reduce it farther before I put it away today.
This is how I spent my weekend. How’d you spend yours? Do anything fun?
(Updated. See final tally at end of post)
Adventures in Apple Butter
It all started with a tree:
A tree filled with crab apples. And a desire to see them not go to waste. It took me 20 minutes to pick a 5 gallon bucket full. I grabbed a few green apples from a neighboring tree to top it off.
Then it was home to wash them. And wash them and wash them.
I washed 4 sinks full and washed them each three times, culling the bad ones each time. A couple of things about crab apples:
- Bad ones float right to the top.
- Black spots always go all the way through the apple – took me about 10 to figure this out – so you can’t cut out the bad stuff.
- They seem to suffer from blossom rot, if the stems pulled out they had blossom rot and were rotten throughout.
- Unlike the green apples next to them, I saw no evidence of worms or bugs in any apple. Whew!
Once I figured this out, culling them was pretty quick. But the thing you need to know is that no matter how much you cull a few bad ones are going to slip through. Just the nature of their size. So if that is going to make you queasy, cooking with crab apples probably isn’t for you.
I used three tools for the apple butter and without them I don’t think I would have gone to the trouble. I cooked them (basically steamed them) in my pressure cooker, I pureed them in my Vita-Mix and I cooked the apple butter down in my slow-cooker. I can’t imagine the amount of work it would have taken without these.
Next step was to pressure cook them. Whole: peels, seeds, stems and all. I added about 1 cup of water and the steamer tray to my pressure cooker and then I cooked them for 25 minutes. Which is probably a bit long, but that made sure they were good and mushy before the blending stage.
After cooling each batch a bit, I ran them through the Vita-Mix – peels, stems, seeds and all. Keep in mind the seeds are minuscule and the stems are smaller than grape stems and cooked tender. To puree this in a hand puree’er would be to lose much of the texture and flavors of the whole crab apples. You’d also lose a good portion of your tiny apples.
After running it through the Vita-Mix, I added about 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg) for each 6 cups of puree.
Then the mixture was added to the slow-cooker, filled to about 2 inches from the top. Set the slow-cooker on low and use a wooden spoon to prop the lid open to let the steam escape. Because what you want is for the mixture to cook down by half and caramelize. This takes 8-12 hours. After the first batch, when the sides browned a little too much, I stirred the next batches every hour or so to keep it from burning. After it cooked down and was the consistency I was looking for, I did it all over again.
As you can see, there is still a lot to do. I am cooking the next batch of apples as I put this blog post together. I only jarred two pints – these are not canned and will need to be refrigerated – one to use here and one to take to work tomorrow. The rest I plan to can tomorrow night when all the butter is cooked. I’m planning on both pints and 1/2 pints, most of which I will give away. I still don’t have a good idea how much this is going to make, but I’ll wager 6 additional pints and 6 half pints. I’ll update you when it’s all done. Oh, and by the way, it tastes amazing. And all weekend long my house smelled like fall.
UPDATED: Final tally was 12 pints and 12 half pints. I canned all but 3 pints and 4 half pints which were given away immediately to friends and neighbors with instructions to keep refrigerated. I never expected it to make so much.