Thursday, December 3, 2009

Out of the cure and into the fire(frying pan)!

They say that patience is a virtue. I am not sure who "they" are, but I think "they" are idiots. There is no way they ever considered patience in relation to waiting for a pork belly to cure so we could enjoy some fresh bacon.

Anyway, Sunday I took the belly out of the cure and it looks great. After about 2 1/2 hours in a 200 degree oven, it came out perfect. Due to my slowly developing food photography skills, the picture above just does not do it justice. I fried up a bit and it tastes as good as it looks.

Also pretty excited about my first crop of Meyer lemons out of our citrus "orchard" in the backyard. If you have never tried a Meyer lemon, you are missing out. Kind of a cross between an orange and a lemon. Sweeter and less acidic than your standard lemon so they go great in sauces and salad dressings without being overpowering.

Stay hungry my friends.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's All About The Pig....

They say bacon is the gateway meat.  Let's face it, even crappy store bought bacon tastes pretty damn good. It is the one thing that even vegetarians say they miss or would want to try if they ate meat. If you think about it, the pig could very well be the most perfect and "magical animal"(thanks Homer Simpson) there is. Seriously. Ham, ribs, chops, pork rinds, endless sausage opportunities, and of course bacon all come from this one tasty animal.

After a successful mass tasting of my last batch of bacon at our Cub Scout campout last weekend, I decided to cure another pork belly and make some more bacon.

The blueprint is a 16 pound skin-on pork belly. After trimming and removing the ribs(bonus!), there was a yield of right at 13 pounds. After cutting it into three manageable chunks as seen in the picture above.
It currently sits in a curing solution consisting of kosher salt, pink salt(has a bit of nitrite to retard bacteria), dextrose(sugar), and brown sugar.

After 9 days in the cure, it will be ready for the
next step- the smoke process.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Peeve of the Month- Parking Valets

Nothing drives me crazier than pulling into a restaurant parking lot that is empty and seeing every parking space blocked off for the valet with a cone. The only thing that keeps me from a confrontation is the leer and pleading from my patient wife to say nothing.

It is borderline extortion to force you to use the valet. I thought the purpose of the valet was to make things convenient for the guest. When the lot is full, the valet takes your car and parks it so you don't have to walk far, right? Wrong. Too many restaurants allow their valets to set policy and it is unfair to the guests.

Restaurant owners. I beg you to give the parking lot back to your guests and send the valets running again. YOU HEAR ME COVA!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food = Obsession? Hobby? Lifestyle?

Those of you that know me, know I love food. I love to eat it, cook it and analyze it. Being Italian, food was and still is a centerpiece for my family's social gatherings. Whether it was hanging out in the kitchen with Mom and eating the meatballs fresh out of the skillet, or helping with the annual sausage making, the kitchen was the place to be.

Fast forward to today and things haven't changed among my family and friends. Go to any gathering and you will find the kitchen packed. Is it because that is where the food is? Sometimes, but I think it is more of a desire to connect with the food that is being prepared and served. OK, there may also be a guilt factor of guests not wanting to leave me alone in the kitchen while everyone is socializing elsewhere.

Through this blog, I want to chronicle some of my cooking exploits and experiments. Whether it is a step by step prep and process of making fresh bacon, or canning my near famous candied jalapenos, I hope you enjoy the efforts.

Who knows, maybe I can figure out how to make a living doing this. What is life without dreams, right?