Pork Products


I devised this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner in Los Angeles, as a third course.  One guest told me it was better than food he had tasted for Top Chef Masters. You judge for yourself.

The secret is to braise the pork belly for 12 hours and to use the braising liquid, defatted, as the stock component in the pinot demi. For textural contrast and to keep the dish from seeming too heavy, use a julienned raw apple and peppery greens to finish the dish.

pork belly, pinot demi, apple, rutabaga

Slow braised pork belly, pinot demi, roasted apple and rutabaga


4 lb pork belly, skin on, bone removed
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1-1/2″ cube yellow rock sugar
1/3 c soy sauce (Japanese white soy preferably)
1 ounce dehydrated pear
2 bay leaves (Turkish)
6 sprigs thyme
6 cloves garlic confit

Blanch bellies, starting in cold filtered water. Remove once water just comes to a boil. Bellies may be blanched ahead of time and refrigerated or proceed immediately to the next step.

Place blanched bellies in stock, in a single layer in a deep heavy pot, with the other ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cover with parchment and place in 190F oven. Braise 12 hours.

Discard parchment and remove bellies from stock and place in a small pan (1/4 hotel is good). Cover with strained braising liquid, defatted to extent possible. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil, and then with a flat surface such as a small cutting board or another hotel pan. Weight and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Reserve the pork fat if desired for the apples and rutabaga. Reserve any excess braising liquid and freeze.

Apples and rutabaga:

4 tart cooking apples, such as honeycrisp, 1/4″ dice
2 medium or 4 small rutabagas, 1/4″ dice
Reserved pork fat from braising liquid, or butter
1/4 c chicken stock

Set skillet on medium high heat and add 2 tbsp pork fat or butter. Saute apples until golden brown (do not turn too often) and set aside.

Wipe out pan, return to medium high heat, add more fat, add rutabaga. Add chicken stock. Allow rutabaga to become tender and turn once. Cook until rutabaga is golden brown. Combine with apples and set aside for service. May perform this step in advance and refrigerate.

To prepare bellies:

Oven 300F Remove fat from liquid (liquid will have gelled – be sure to save as much liquid as possible). Remove bellies and trim to square off edges. Reserve trimmings for future use. Cut into squares or rectangles of uniform size.

Place skillet on high heat. Add clarified butter or grapeseed oil. Place bellies in skillet, skin side down, and cook until the skin is crisp. Turn over and place in the oven to heat through. Meanwhile, prepare the demi.

Pinot demiglace:

2 large shallots, minced
3c pinot noir
4c braising liquid
1/2 c veal glace de viande (chicken ok as well)
2 oz unsalted butter, very cold

Place shallots and 2c pinot in saute pan. Reduce to au sec. Add another cup of wine and reduce to au sec again. Add the braising liquid and reduce by 2/3 (more or less – do not overreduce) and add the glace de viande. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Whisk in the butter to emulsify. Taste for seasoning but it should not need salt.

Hold for service if necessary.

For service:

2 honeycrisp or other tart apples (Granny Smith, Arkansas Black,etc)
1/4 lb pea sprouts or radish sprouts, leaves only

Julienne apples. Hold in lemon water if necessary and drain well.
Remove bellies from oven.

Place the apple/rutabaga in a skillet and reheat.
Sauce the plate with demi. Place a spoonful of apple/rutabaga on plate. Place square of belly atop vegetables. Top with apple julienne and pea sprouts.

Holidays, Random Thoughts

Turkey tips from the Kitchen.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise – food, family, friends, drinks…what’s not to like? Interestingly, though, I don’t care for turkey all that much. It’s kind of bland – especially those factory farmed birds – and there’s just so much of it. After a week of turkey pot pie, creamed turkey, turkey risotto, turkey tetrazzini, open face turkey sandwiches, I’m mostly done with turkey for the year. I don’t even order turkey at the deli.

That said, I do try to make a delicious turkey for the one week each year I have to eat it. What I like to do is to remove the entire skin, slice it into nice squares or triangles, and crisp them in the oven. Meanwhile, I cook the breast sous-vide (meaning vacuum sealed with salt and herbs – and in my case, butter – and cooked at a controlled temperature for a very moist breast). Then I serve the sliced breast with the chips of crispy skin. I also braise the thighs in milk and thyme for many hours, like I would with pork. And then I serve them as separate courses. But that’s me. That’s probably not you.

What you probably want to do is brine the turkey, butter it, roast it – first at a high temperature to get the skin to crisp up, and then at a lower temperature to let the meat cook – and then rest it, breast down, so the meat stays super juicy. You also can try my husband’s barding method. It’s nice, especially if you suffer from bacon mania, and the only cure is bacon. So again, that’s four steps:

* Brine – not too long
* Butter (or bard) – gives it a nice brown coat and a delicious flavor
* Roast – baste as you go and check the temp once 2/3 time has elapsed
* Rest – head down is best, and provide adequate support

The following is for a 14-16 lb bird. For a breast or a smaller (8-12 lb bird), you can reduce amounts by half, store it in a big stockpot, and brine for a shorter time (2 hours).

The brine:
4 c apple juice
2/3 c kosher salt or 1/2c table salt
1/4c sugar
5 bay leaves
4-6 springs of thyme
about 4 cloves
6-8 black peppercorns.
* * * * *
one onion, halved
one stalk celery, halved
one lemon, halved
4 oz (1 stick) butter

In a small saucepan, combine all the first set of ingredients, bring to a simmer, and allow it to simmer, covered, for an hour (add more juice if necessary). Transfer to the biggest pot you have (like a stockpot or a clean bucket that you only would use for food – a 5 gal bucket from Home Depot works perfectly and is inexpensive) and fill it with 8 qt very cold water and about 1 qt ice cubes. Stir well and add the turkey. Return to the refrigerator or a cold (<40F) place like a garage. Brine for 4 hours (you can get away with as few as 2 hrs if necessary).

1h before roasting, preheat the oven to 400F.

30 mins before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine, pat the skin dry. Place the onion, celery, and lemon in the cavity, and rub the skin with butter.

Roast bone-in turkey for 15 mins/lb, or boneless breast for about 12 mins/lb. After the first 20 mins turn down to 350F. Baste every 25 mins with the butter and drippings from the bottom of the pan. Put a little water (1/2 c) in the bottom of the pan to prevent the drippings from burning.

Do the math before roasting and check once 2/3 of the calculated time has elapsed. Place a meat thermometer into both the thickest part of the breast and the joint between the breast and thigh. When both have reached 165F, the turkey is ready to rest.

Rest the turkey for 1/2 hour-45 mins before carving (shorter for a smaller turkey or a breast, longer for a larger turkey). If you can, have the turkey's head pointing downward while it rests – this promotes a very moist breast. You should support the turkey if you plan to do this so it doesn't topple over. Turning the turkey upside down on the roasting rack, positioned over the carving board, is the safest way, as is positioning the turkey head-down at an angle on a V-rack.

Enjoy that turkey!

Random Thoughts

Speaking of recycling…

eGullet is doing the “No-Shopping Challenge” – basically a freezer/refrigerator eat-down – this week. Even The Guardian has covered it. Now, as a matter of fact, the Sunday Roast through Ragù meals this week all have been in the nature of eatdown. I’m enjoying the serendipity.

We’ll be doing one of these right here in the Kitchen after Thanksgiving to help you tighten your belts after that holiday shopping, so stay tuned!

Italian, Lamb., Leftover Recycling, Pasta, Quick Meals

Recycling is good.

So let’s say you roasted a leg of lamb, not for company but just for the two of you, and now you’re looking for ways to dispose of the leftovers. Try chopping up the roast meat and turning it into a ragù.

Broadly speaking, a ragù is a meat-based sauce, usually based on a soffritto (fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery, cooked down in olive oil), with pancetta, tomato, wine, and meat broth. Usually the meat for ragù is finely chopped or ground while raw. This recipe relies on cooked meat to use up the leftover roast. You can, of course, use the meat from fresh lamb, but you will need to cook it much longer. In that case, use the shoulder if you can get it, or stew meat if you can’t, dice it as finely as possible (1/4″ or smaller), and simmer the dish, partially covered, for about 2 1/2 hours.

Regarding the pasta selection: ragù bolognese made with beef traditionally accompanies an egg-based pasta, like lasagna or pappardelle. I was thinking of my honeymoon in Sardinia, though, when I made this lamb sauce. One might think that, as an island, Sardinia would rely heavily on seafood, but it does not. Sardegnan cuisine features lamb, goat, and pork far more than fish. I had some of the best pork – the delicious roast, porcheddù – while in Cagliari. They also enjoy a small, dry, gnocchi-shaped pasta called malloreddus, traditionally served with a tomato-based meat sauce. I found a package of malloreddus in the pantry and the dish was ready to go. You can substitute another short ridged pasta, like rigatoni or penne.

Mint and a little lemon zest complement the lamb’s characteristic flavor.

Lamb ragù, mint, pecorino sardo, malloreddus.

Lamb ragù with mint, malloreddus
1 small onion, minced
2 medium carrots, small dice (1/8″)
1 lb lamb leg roast meat, diced (1/4″)
4 ounces pancetta, diced (1/4″)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 c dry red wine
6 canned San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
1 c meat broth, or chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
olive oil
1 lb malloreddus (substitute penne rigate, rigatoni – if you can find it, pici is nice)
grated pecorino sardo (substitute pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
handful mint leaves
handful parsley
lemon zest

Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. When hot, add a tbsp of oil and the vegetables – first, the onions, then the carrots, sauteeing each slowly until they are tender and just beginning to brown. Turn the vegetables out into a container. Add the pancetta to the empty pan and return to heat. Saute until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is beginning to crisp, and add the diced meat. Lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring only occasionally, until the meat is brown. If you are using raw product, this will take a fairly long time and you should select a wider pan.

When the meat is browned, incorporate the tomato paste and then add the wine. Stir well to release all the fond from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated/been absorbed. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up, the juice, and the broth or stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook, partially covered, until the sauce is thick and the meat is very tender (if using cooked lamb to start, 30 minutes is sufficient for a good ragù, but more is better; if using uncooked product to start, you will need a couple of hours). Add additional stock if the sauce starts to dry out. Hold ragù for service.

Cook the malloreddus in boiling salted water. Drain and return to pan. Sauce with ragù, toss, and plate. Spoon some cheese over the top as well as some torn or minced mint and parsley leaves and lemon zest.

Now that's Italian.

Beef, East Asian, Soup

Noodle bowl.

My parents live in Taipei these days and I can say with confidence that no city in the world outshines Taipei in the street food department. You got your dumpling stands, your steamed meat bun guys, the green onion pancake specialists, the fried chicken people (more on that in a later post), the hot limeade, oyster omelettes, fried sausages on a stick…and then there are the noodle soups.

The noodle soup stands are ubiquitous and feature vats of noodles, and steaming broths, bowls of shredded or slow-cooked meats, bins of raw vegetables and eggs. Recently, the Taipei Main Station – the main railway terminal – opened an amazing food court featuring a wide array of noodle soups, curries, and other international meals. Their braised beef noodle soup – niu rou mian – is delicious.

Some specialists believe the best niu rou mian features separately cooked meat and broth. I agree but if you want to eat this on a weeknight, you can prepare a really good broth using just the meat. Both recipes follow – decide which way you want to go.

Braised beef brisket, noodles, gai lan.

Niu Rou Mian

2 lb beef brisket, cut into 1 1/4″ cubes – tendon and shank are great also
2 lb beef bones, preferably knuckle and oxtail
About 10 c filtered water
6 inch piece ginger, sliced 1/2″ thick lengthwise (slightly on the diagonal)
6 scallions, 4″ segments
1 onion, halved across the equator
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp bean paste
1 tbsp hot bean paste
1/4 c soy sauce + 2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
3 whole star anise
12 ounces wheat noodles (la mian)
1 lb green vegetable, like broccoli raab or chinese broccoli (gai lan)
Tiny red chiles, sliced into thin rings
Hot bean paste
Pickled mustard greens, chopped into fine dice – available in cans in Asian groceries
Scallions, sliced into thin rings
Toasted/black sesame oil

For the broth:

Note – see below for the easy way. Place a large deep pot over medium heat and add a small quantity of vegetable/canola oil. Add the onion. Do not stir but allow the onion to blacken. Remove from the pot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and saute until aromatic. Return the onion to the pot, reduce the heat to low, and add the beef bones. Add 7c of water and bring to a simmer, skimming all the foam that rises to the top. Simmer for 3-4 hours. Strain through a chinois/fine strainer.

Meanwhile, in a separate heavy pot with a lid, combine the bean pastes, star anise, shaoxing wine, and soy with the remaining 3c of water. Add the beef and bring to a simmer. Skim the foam that rises to the top. Simmer until the beef is tender, about 2-3 hours depending on the type of beef and its fat/collagen content.

Combine the beef with its braising liquid and the strained beef stock. Bring back to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with soy sauce. You can prepare this in advance and hold it for service (or freeze it and bring back to a simmer for about 10 minutes to heat the meat thoroughly before service).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook the greens until just crisp-tender. Remove from the pot, return the water to the boil, and cook the noodles.

Drain the noodles and divide into a number of bowls (4-6 depending on hunger level). Add greens, beef, and broth. Garnish with scallions, red chile, bean paste, sesame oil, and pickled mustard greens.

* Easy route:

If you don’t want to deal with beef bones and two pots, you can make the beef and broth all in one shot.

Place a large deep pot over medium heat and add a small quantity of vegetable/canola oil. Add the onion. Do not stir but allow the onion to blacken. Remove from the pot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and saute until aromatic. Reduce the heat to low and return the onion to the pot. Combine the bean pastes, star anise, shaoxing wine, and soy with about 10c of water. Add the beef and bring to a simmer, skimming all the foam that rises to the top. Simmer until the beef is tender, about 3-4 hours depending on the type of beef and its fat/collagen content. Remove the beef chunks to another container and strain the broth through a chinois/fine strainer.

Note to slow cooker enthusiasts: Once you bring the mixture to a simmer, you can transfer it to a slow cooker and cook it on low all day or all night. You’ll have super tender meat.


Sunday roast.

It doesn’t seem like people do the Sunday roast in the U.S., which is a shame because not only is the roast delicious, but there is no better way to score leftovers. You can recycle them into another dish, have sandwiches the next day, or just continue to pick bits off the roast until it’s gone.

This is where I admit that I don’t care for lamb.  I should.  I can appreciate the delicacy of really young lamb in a technical sense but the taste properties of lamb still leave me sort of cold.  My husband, however, loves lamb and I have learned how to prepare it in ways that don’t leave me with a pile of meat on the plate after I’ve eaten all the accompaniments.

I served this with roast cauliflower and a cauliflower purée (from the Duo post), but could have served it just as well with white beans, flageolets, or mashed potatoes, and a lemony gremolata. After roasting, let the meat rest. A roast this size needs to rest at least 30 minutes, and as long as 40. Roasting allows the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute from the hot surface back toward the center.

The Roast.

Roast leg of lamb

1 leg of lamb, about 4 pounds, trimmed of silverskin
2 tsp salt
12 cloves garlic confit
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced (substitute 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, minced (substitute 1 tsp dried)
[Optional – 1 tsp rosemary leaves, minced]

Oven 425F

Using a sharp, thin knife, make about 8-10 slits in the meat running roughly parallel to the bone.  Combine the salt, garlic, and herbs and make a paste.  Rub it all over the lamb and in the slits, and in the spaces where the meat muscles separate.

Place the lamb in the 425F oven.  After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 300F.  Roast for about an hour, or until the lamb is 140F in the thickest part, for medium rare.  Remove and rest.  Meanwhile, if you want, make a light pan sauce:

1 c syrah
1/4 c veal glace de viande
2 tbsp butter

Flame the wine in a saucepan to burn off alcohol (you can dispense with this step if really necessary). Place the pan over burners. Over medium heat, add the wine. Whisk to incorporate lamb fond and reduce the wine to au sec (a glaze). Add the glace de viande and whisk well. Remove from heat and add butter, shaking pan or stirring with whisk to emulsify.

Roast leg of lamb, duo of cauliflower, syrah demi.

Pork Products

Breakfast of champions.

Weekends are a good time to eat the kind of breakfast you really shouldn’t eat all that often – for reasons of time or health.   I admit we only have this kind of fry-up a couple times a year, but my husband’s father was English so I have to give in once in a while.


Don't do this every day.

Many disagree over what goes into the proper fry-up.  My husband’s father always scrambled his eggs, and served them alongside bacon, sausages, mushrooms, beans, fried tomato, and toast fried in the bacon fat.  My family lived in London as well and always served up a sunnyside-up egg, but dispensed with frying either the tomato or the toast.  In any case, in England the bacon was usually rashers of back bacon, and the breakfast also involved crisp-fried slices of black pudding and a bottle of brown sauce.

Here’s our impromptu fry-up.  Smoked belly bacon, and it’s well past tomato season so you won’t find that on the plate at this time of year.  The mushrooms are hen of the woods, sautéed with garlic confit, a pinch of truffle salt, and a squeeze of lemon.  The beans are Heinz, out of a can, from the British imports section.  They inspired the breakfast.


These are on the very bready side, to my husband’s preference.  You can reduce the volume of bread anywhere from this level down to zero if you don’t care for a bread sausage.  If you do, reduce the salt slightly as well (1 tsp per pound of meat, generally). When you cook them, cook slowly on the stovetop, and turn frequently.  Don’t prick first, and don’t let them stick to the pan – the juices should stay in the sausage.

2 lb pork shoulder with the fat cap, skin removed (weight after removal), cubed 1″
1 loaf bread, cubed and dried in oven at 200F, measured to 1/4 lb
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt (if using Morton’s Kosher)
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
12 cloves garlic confit
leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
hog casings

In a large bowl or hotel pan, season the meat evenly with all the remaining ingredients except the bread cubes.  Cover and refrigerate for a day.

Soak the casings well in several changes of water at least an hour before grinding and stuffing.  Rinse inside and out.  Crush the breadcrumbs (a sealed bag with a rolling pin works well).

Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan in a single layer (use multiple pans if necessary) and freeze until half firm.  Grind using the coarse die, into a bowl over a pan or larger bowl of ice to keep it cold.  Combine the meat with the breadcrumbs quickly – do not overmix or allow to become less than ice cold.  Cook a test piece and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, pepper, or nutmeg if necessary.

Attach the casing to the grinder and stuff the sausage.  Do not overstuff.  Pinch off links of the desired lengths (from short to very long, if desired) and twist off the casing, tying with kitchen twine.

Cook sausages over medium-low heat.