Triple Pork Jambalaya


Triple Pork Jambalaya

Triple Pork Jambalaya
Triple Pork Jambalaya
Adding the Meat to Jambalaya Pot
Pork Belly, Pork Leg (Pata), and Lucban Longganisa Sausage Jambalaya

My usual recipe for Jambalaya has shrimp, chicken, and Andouille sausage. Today I will be using the Filipino favorite, Longganisa Sausages (I searched for something with as little sugar as possible) Pork Belly, and a Marinated Pork Leg (pata cut). I really enjoy my visits to the butcher, between my questions and their availability I feel like we both learn a lot from the cultural mash up. I was searching for a secret ingredient familiar in soul food called ham hock. This cut comes from the leg of the hog in the area between the ham and the ankle. The hock adds tons of savory flavor to dishes like turnip greens and beans because it contains many small bones, tendons, fat and skin. When I asked for the hock I got strange looks (as usual) but was told they had a whole leg. Here in the Philippines this part of the leg is deep dried and called crispy pata. I had them cut the lower portions into sections and the top meaty area near the ham cut into one inch thick steaks.

Pork leg aka Pata (that lower part is the hock)
Pork leg aka pata (that lower part is the hock).

I prepared the meat with a 3/1 ratio of brown sugar and salt rub.

Brown sugar and salt act as a cure, but I wasn't going to be waiting that long.
Brown sugar and salt act as a cure, but I wasn’t going to be waiting that long.

I covered with a marinade of olive oil, black mustard seed, fennel seed, star anise, black pepper, chili oil, rice vinegar, and few tablespoons of my Cajun Seasoning for some cayenne heat. I let this marry for about two hours while I prepared the pork belly, sausages, and the vegetables. Oh, and also to shoot some photos for you guys.

Olive oil based marinade.
Olive oil based marinade.

After braising the pork leg in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Afterwards I strained the juices while letting the meat rest.

Draining the Pork Leg
I am collecting the drippings because nothing goes to waste. I have plans to make that into a BBQ sauce for something tasty.

After cooling, I trimmed the meat from the leg. I am saving the skin for making cracklin’ later.

Choice cuts from the pata.
Choice cuts of pata.
Pork Pata2
I tossed this in the trusty hot iron skillet to give it a little color.

Pork Pata1

 

The tendon and bones went into a sauce pot. I collected the braising drippings from the pan and gelatinous fats from between the skin and meat and placed it all into the sauce pot as well. I reduced this on medium-high heat to congeal everything. I then strained out all the solids from the liquid and continued reducing over low heat into an even thicker sauce by adding honey and rice vinegar.

The rendered juices. Better know as concentrated flavor.
The rendered juices. Better known as concentrated flavor.

I bought a lot of pork so expect triple pork sliders in a future post. But back to the Jambalaya. The pata would be providing a dense meaty flavor to the dish. I wanted something to add richness; something soft and luscious. For ingredient number two, I chose pork belly.

Nice, thick, bone in pork belly.
Nice, thick, bone in pork belly.

 

Season the belly simply to let the natural flavors shine.
Don’t overcomplicate the seasoning, let the natural flavors shine.

Rub the pork belly with liberal amounts of olive oil, course ground sea salt, course fresh ground black pepper, and a handful of brown sugar. Score the skin by cutting a quilted pattern through the skin until the fat layer. This will turn into cracklin’ as the pork bakes.  Shape a sheet of aluminium foil into a rectangle with high sides and an open top to hold the drippings from the pork belly.

This will save you from ruining a glass casserole dish.
This will save you from ruining a glass casserole dish.

Place skin side up so it dries while the meat side sits in the hot rendering fats tenderising. Depending on thickness of your pork belly this usually bakes for at least an hour and thirty minutes.

Pork Belly4
Trim of the skin and don’t forget it has a few bones.
Pork Belly2
The final dish is always better when you spend time crafting each individual ingredient.

 

A good cook is always tasting.
A good cook is always tasting.

Remove the belly and trim the crispy skin off. Then cut the meat into cubes.

Cut it into thick cubes so the melt in you mouth texture doesn't disolve in the pot.
Cut it into thick not thin cubes so the melt in your mouth pork belly doesn’t disolve in the pot.
I recently read an article that said pork was healthier than chicken...
I recently read an article that said pork was healthier than chicken…

Place the skin back in the drippings and bake until fried and crispy to your liking.

For the third little piggy I decided to use longganisa sausages. Typically longganisa is packed with sugar, so after some hunting I found a less sweet variety seasoned with garlic and herbs called Lucban.

This come packed in a plastic casing with string. Don't forget to remove that before it hits the hot pan.
These come packed in a plastic casing with string. Don’t forget to remove that before it hits the hot pan.

 

They may look like breakfast sausages. But for what they lack in size they make up for in flavor.
They may look like breakfast sausages, but for what they lack in size, they make up for in flavor.
After browning the outside, slice thick and char one side.
After browning the outside, slice thick and char one side.

Ok that is all for the meat course, lets move on to the veg. Louisiana has a largely Catholic population and this influence rubs off on a lot of things. The core of scores of traditional Cajun dishes begin with their version of a French mirepoix, or what is better know as the Cajun Holy Trinity.

The Cajun Trinity consists of Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper.
The Cajun Trinity consists of Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper.
The Trinity consists of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
The Trinity of peppers.

 

Multi-colored peppers are not required, but green bell pepper are a necessity.
Multi-colored peppers are not required, but green bell pepper are a necessity.

Bell Pepper- I like to use different colored peppers for both visual aesthetic and a less overall bitter taste versus only using green. Also did you know the more red in color the bell pepper, the more vitamin C it has? Bell peppers are also very high in antioxidants, crunch crunch.

Onion- I used four onions for this dish. I prefer red onion but any color will do. The smaller and more firm red onions are the best in my opinion.

The onions here in the Philippines remind me of shallots.
The onions here in the Philippines remind me of shallots.

 

Celery- If the celery stalks still have their leaves, save them don’t throw that away! They are super tasty and good in anything from salad to salsa or just as a garnish.

Ants on a muddy log anyone?
Ants on a muddy log anyone?

 

So I know it's called the trinity, but what dish is complete without garlic.
So I know it’s called the trinity, but what dish is complete without garlic.

 

Press with the flat of your palm to break apart the clove.
Press with the flat of your palm to break apart the clove. Use it all.

 

And the last vegetable ingredient is the green onion or spring onion. Cut the green tops from the white bottoms. The whites are for cooking. Save the green for garnishing the plate and a fresh green crunch instead of stringy wilted mush if cooked.

Spring Onions

A colorful trinity.
A colorful trinity.

Take your pork belly drippings and place them in your stock pot on medium high heat. When the grease is a hot enough temperature to induce a loud sizzle add all of the vegetables and stir. Careful not to burn yourself, the water releasing from the veggies with create a lot of steam and cause the oil to pop. Once everything is coated well and sizzling, reduce the heat and cover your stock pot for about 5 minutes. Don’t wait for the vegetable to soften too much and lose their color. At this point add all of the meat to the pot and stir gently, blending everything together.

Carefully stir, you do not want to break apart all your meat vegetables and rice.
Carefully stir, you do not want to break apart your meat vegetables or rice.

 

And here is the point where I totally cheated. Let me just say that the rice here in Manila is way way different than the parboiled long grain I am familiar with in the States. The last batch of from scratch Jambalaya I made turned into 20 servings of mush. So I found this imported brand that worked brilliantly.

Don't judge a hungry man.
Don’t judge a hungry man.

I let the mix come to a boil, then reduced the heat to simmer and covered the stock pot. I cooked for twenty minutes stirring once at the ten minute mark. I tested a bite of rice and it was perfect so I uncovered and removed the pot from the heat source. Time to plate!

Jambalaya Plated2
Add a crunch to the bite by adding fresh trinity veggies and green onion to the plate.
Jambalaya Pot2
I wish you could taste this.
Jambalaya Zoom2
Feast your eyes on this!
Jambalaya Pot3
What more can be said?
Jambalaya Plated3
Time to eat!

Beets and Feta Cheese Salad


Beets and Feta Cheese Salad

Beet Salad Dressed Macro
Ewe beets? Yes beets, beet salad. But the one crazy difference? This salad is delicious!

 

Beet Salad Dressed Closeup
This super healthy salad is as tasty as it is nutritious.

Beets and Feta Cheese Salad Recipe:

  • Firm Feta Cheesecut into cubes then tossed in Lemon infused Olive Oil.
  • Grilled Herded ChickenBoneless skinless chicken breast. Grill or cook in light olive oil. Cut into cubes and sprinkled with my own Poultry Seasoning Recipe (Thyme, Salt, Dried Lemon Zest, Dried Orange Zest, Dried Lime Zest, Paprika, Sumac, Nutmeg, Tarragon, Marjoram)
  • Beetsred or golden if you can find them, both make for a beautiful healthy and tasty salad. Wash the beets first then place in a pot and cover with water. Add a dash of salt to keep the color from bleeding out. Bring to a boil until the beets are soft enough to insert a fork into. This can take from 30 minute to over an hour depending on the beets’ size.  Remove the beets, let them cool then cut into cubes (you may want to lay paper towels or parchment paper over your cutting board so it does not get dyed pink. You may also want to use disposable gloves when handling the beets.You can use pickled beets if that is all you can find, but go fresh if possible (the nutrient levels, as well as the taste, and texture are worlds apart.)
  • Fuji AppleAny crisp apple will do, even green apples. Allumette cut (matchstick size). Place the slices in cold water and add a squeeze of lemon to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Bitter GreensI used watercress tops  but arugula, spinach, or mustard greens are perfect with their crisp peppery bite.
  • *Whole Almonds and Sunflower Seedsdried edamame, soybeans, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashew, maybe even some toasted flax seed or flash fried quinoa.
  • *Dried Cranberries– Any type of  fruit works great really. Dried or fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.

 *These last two lines of ingredients can easily come from a store bought fruit and nut blend or trail mix.  Maybe I will do a trail mix recipe soon…hmm*

Balsamic Vinaigrette, Wild Honey, and Strawberry Preserves Dressing Recipe:

  • Fruit and Honey Balsamic Blend- This is a secret recipe. Use fresh berries or preserves  (fig, apricot, blackberry or strawberry are all  delicious choices). Add an overloaded tablespoon of wild honey and your favorite thick balsamic vinegar. Mix until blended.
Cooked and cooled beets, cut into cubes.
Cooked and cooled beets, cut into cubes.

Beets are one of the most nutritious vegetables a person can include in their diet. They are packed with tons of vitamins to help support a healthy  and active lifestyle. Beets are super versatile, from eliminating garlic breath to acting as a hangover cure. Check out this link to find out more about this super food: 6 Health Benefits of Eating Beets.

Beet Salad Board2
I guess you could just eat it now…
One of my newly found and favorite ingredients, bee pollen.
One of my newly found and favorite ingredients, bee pollen.
This citrus packed seasoning blend goes great on all poultry.
This citrus packed seasoning blend goes great on all poultry.

 

 

Beet Salad Mixed2
This salad really is so simple to make, you have to try it.

 

 

Beet Salad Mixed3
I have not met one person whose negative opinion about beets was not changed by this salad’s wonderful flavors.

 

 

Either drizzle or toss the entire salad with the dressing.
Either drizzle or toss the entire salad with the dressing.

 

Beet Salad Board
The most colorful food is the healthiest I have heard, and each of these ingredients is also scrumptious (beets excluded).

 

 

Beets and Feta Cheese Salad


Beets and Feta Cheese Salad

Beet Salad Dressed Macro
Ewe beets? Yes beets, beet salad. But the one crazy difference? This salad is delicious!

 

Beet Salad Dressed Closeup
This super healthy salad is as tasty as it is nutritious.

Beets and Feta Cheese Salad Recipe:

  • Firm Feta Cheesecut into cubes then tossed in Lemon infused Olive Oil.
  • Grilled Herded ChickenBoneless skinless chicken breast. Grill or cook in light olive oil. Cut into cubes and sprinkled with my own Poultry Seasoning Recipe (Thyme, Salt, Dried Lemon Zest, Dried Orange Zest, Dried Lime Zest, Paprika, Sumac, Nutmeg, Tarragon, Marjoram)
  • Beetsred or golden if you can find them, both make for a beautiful healthy and tasty salad. Wash the beets first then place in a pot and cover with water. Add a dash of salt to keep the color from bleeding out. Bring to a boil until the beets are soft enough to insert a fork into. This can take from 30 minute to over an hour depending on the beets’ size.  Remove the beets, let them cool then cut into cubes (you may want to lay paper towels or parchment paper over your cutting board so it does not get dyed pink. You may also want to use disposable gloves when handling the beets.You can use pickled beets if that is all you can find, but go fresh if possible (the nutrient levels, as well as the taste, and texture are worlds apart.)
  • Fuji AppleAny crisp apple will do, even green apples. Allumette cut (matchstick size). Place the slices in cold water and add a squeeze of lemon to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Bitter GreensI used watercress tops  but arugula, spinach, or mustard greens are perfect with their crisp peppery bite.
  • *Whole Almonds and Sunflower Seedsdried edamame, soybeans, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashew, maybe even some toasted flax seed or flash fried quinoa.
  • *Dried Cranberries– Any type of  fruit works great really. Dried or fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.

 *These last two lines of ingredients can easily come from a store bought fruit and nut blend or trail mix.  Maybe I will do a trail mix recipe soon…hmm*

Balsamic Vinaigrette, Wild Honey, and Strawberry Preserves Dressing Recipe:

  • Fruit and Honey Balsamic Blend- This is a secret recipe. Use fresh berries or preserves  (fig, apricot, blackberry or strawberry are all  delicious choices). Add an overloaded tablespoon of wild honey and your favorite thick balsamic vinegar. Mix until blended.
Cooked and cooled beets, cut into cubes.
Cooked and cooled beets, cut into cubes.

Beets are one of the most nutritious vegetables a person can include in their diet. They are packed with tons of vitamins to help support a healthy  and active lifestyle. Beets are super versatile, from eliminating garlic breath to acting as a hangover cure. Check out this link to find out more about this super food: 6 Health Benefits of Eating Beets.

Beet Salad Board2
I guess you could just eat it now…
One of my newly found and favorite ingredients, bee pollen.
One of my newly found and favorite ingredients, bee pollen.
This citrus packed seasoning blend goes great on all poultry.
This citrus packed seasoning blend goes great on all poultry.

 

 

Beet Salad Mixed2
This salad really is so simple to make, you have to try it.

 

 

Beet Salad Mixed3
I have not met one person whose negative opinion about beets was not changed by this salad’s wonderful flavors.

 

 

Either drizzle or toss the entire salad with the dressing.
Either drizzle or toss the entire salad with the dressing.

 

Beet Salad Board
The most colorful food is the healthiest I have heard, and each of these ingredients is also scrumptious (beets excluded).

 

 

Mayura Wagyu Burgers


Mayura Wagyu Burgers

MAYURA WAGYU BURGER
An Epic Meal: Mayura full blooded Wagyu Burgers and Camote Fries.

 

Ingredients:

  • Vine Ripe Tomatoes
  • Organic Rocket Arugula
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Fourme d’Ambert Cheese
  • Black Sesame Artisanal Kaiser Buns
  • 100% Mayura Wagyu Ground Beef Patties
  • JapAioli- Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise, Minced Garlic, Yellow Mustard, Honey Mustard, Black Pepper, Salt
  • Red Onion and Balsamic Compote- Butter, Diced Onion, Muscovado Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar, Pomegranate Vinegar, Red Wine

Ingredients are everything. Mayura Wagyu is the best beef burger I have ever tasted, period. I was invited to a friends house to cook Mayura Wagyu burgers, and after our meal the four of us sat in silent meditation still reeling from the experience of perfection. Before we had begun eating, the room was full of playful conversation, but as soon as dinner began, it was completely silent save for the occasional utterance of “oh my god” “mmm” or “so good“.

I am new to the world of full blood Wagyu beef so to explain all the details of why their product is the best please follow this link to the Mayura Station Website.

The marbling of the beef is unlike anything I have seen in other steak. The creamy texture of the meat and melt in your mouth flavor almost makes me sad to cook it. It really is unique.

I used the best ingredients I could find for these burgers, and the result was truly breathtaking.

I did not want to overpower the buttery beef flavor with tons of condiments. I made a quick Red Onion and Balsamic Compote at home before heading over to my friends house. It is a pretty simple recipe that I adapted watching the French mother of a family friend make.

RED ONION COMPOTE
Red Onion and Balsamic Compote

Red Onion and Balsamic Compote

  • Finely chop two Red Onions
  • Over low heat, brown butter almost to the burning point, then add the onions. Sauté.
  • Sprinkle in Muscuvado Sugar and stir until melted and sticky
  • Cover with red wine and allow to evaporate, keeping the softened onions moist with splashes of pomegranate  vinegar.
  • When the butter, wine, and onions are heavily caramelized (15-20 minutes), slowly drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer until thick.
  • Add course ground black pepper and salt to taste. 

 

In the middle of cooking I realized we would probably need another condiment and I didnt have time to make homemade Aioli. My friend had Japanese Kewpie Mayo in the fridge so I whipped up an impromptu creation, JapAioli.

Before the Kewpie was added.
Before the Kewpie was added.

JapAioli

  • Minced Garlic
  • Classic Yellow Mustard
  • Fresh Ground Salt and Pepper
  • Honey Mustard
  • Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise 

 

Back to the business of burgers. The meet had been defrosting but was still a little cold, so I separated what we would be using and put the rest back in the freezer.

MAYURA WAGYU HANDS ON
Such beautiful beef, I just had to touch it.

I lightly salted it to help the meat bind, but it did not need much  because of the high fat content.

SEASONING MAYURA WAGYU
Just enough salt to act as your binder, you do not want to dry out the meat.

 

I got out the scale and weighed out 1/4 pound portions for patties. I gently formed the patties by hand, and let them hit room temperature while I prepped the rest of the veggies and made the Camote Fries.

WEIGHING THE WAGYU PORTIONS
Portioning out the Mayura Wagyu.

 

RAW MAYURA WAGYU PATTIES
Let the beef come to room temperature so you are not competing with a cold center.
Trimming down the Arugula
Trimming down the Arugula.

 

TOMATO AND ARUGULA
Organic Arugula and Vine Ripe Tomato.

 

Camote is the Filipino variety of Sweet Potatoes.

 

Frythe Camote for around 5 minutes.
Fry the Camote for around 5 minutes.

 

 

Only half of these survived until meal time.
Only half of these survived until meal time.

 

Fourme d'Ambert
Fourme d’Ambert

 

 

A smoking hot iron skillet is key to excellent burgers.
A smoking hot iron skillet is key to excellent burgers.

 

Thanks for the help plating while I flip burgers my friends!
Thanks for the help plating while I flipped burgers my friends!

 

All I did was cook, photos and plating arrangement credit go to my dinner buddies!
All I did was cook, photos and plating arrangement credits go to my dinner buddies!

 

Bite me.
Bite me.

 

 

Cream Dory, Arugula Spaghetti, and Shiitake Mayo


Cream Dory, Arugula Spaghetti, and Shiitake Mayo

Cream Dory, Arugula Spaghetti, and Shiitake Mayo
Cream Dory, Arugula Spaghetti, and Shiitake Mayo

I was very excited to try out this molecular gastronomy kit from Molecule-R.

Here is a shot of all the goodies inside the box, I grabbed this photo from their website.

This kit is just one of many in the Molecule-R Collection
This kit is just one of many in the Molecule-R Collection

I have absolutely loved science and chemistry since I was a kid and playing with test tubes, actually blowing things up, still peaks my interest (nerd alert). Molecular Gastronomy involves the help of different friendly (aka edible) chemicals that can transform ordinary food into something as awesome as that volcano you made as a kid for the science fair.  The Cuisine R-Evolution kit’s contents have enough items to make all sorts of different recipes for spherification, gelification, and emulsification. The Arugula Spaghetti noodles recipe was what caught my eye. Check out Molecule-R’s Video to see what I mean.

Arugula Shaghetti
Basically this is a gel made out of pureed Arugula, and the thickening agent Agar Agar.

 

Fresh Chopped Arugula After blending the leaves, take the liquid Arugula and inject it into the tubing, then  chill in an ice bath. Pretty simple to make. I am not sure about using Arugula  next time though as my version came out pretty bitter. I would suggest basil or even mint. Next time around I will also use  less water  than the recipe calls for in order to create a thicker gelatin; my noodles were a bit delicate  and broke easily.

 

 

 

Enough about fancy jelly noodles. What originally inspired this dish was a trip to the Sunday Farmers market. I was introduced to a pretty cool ingredient, bee pollen. Its flavor  is a crunchy mix of semi-sweet honey and a very floral pollen aroma. Bee pollen has a ton of health benefits and I imagine it would be good in a granola bar or salad. I bought it because of the unique and vibrant color, plus I am obsessed with honey. To pair with fish, I combined it with a drizzle of Japanese chili sesame oil and some lemon zest.

Cream Dory with Bee Pollen

I bought some local Shiitake mushrooms from the Farmers Market as well and I steamed half  of the batch in butter, and the other half I minced.  I made a sort of mushroom Duxelle with the minced Shiitake by sauteing  it in a mix of browned butter and herbs de provence. I puréed the Duxelle in a food processor and combined it with a homemade mayonnaise, resulting in a very nice sauce for the fish. I really enjoyed this sauce and I am going to be making it again to pair with other things (patatas bravas perhaps?)

 

I pan seared the Dory in my trusty cast iron skillet, and then finished it in oven on low heat. This keeps the skin very crispy and the fish itself moist and delicate. I separated the skin and trimmings and fried them with whole garlic and lemon slices which I used to garnish the plate. This really helped give some crunch to all the soft textures of this dish. I was happy to stumble upon the edible Blue Ternate Flowers at the Farmers Market.  They are not just for looks; along with their amazing color they have many beneficial properties listed in the previous link.

Cream Dory, Arugula Spaghetti, Shiitake Mayonnaise

I had so much fun messing around with my pioneer molecular gastronomy adventure, stay tuned for more “gastronaut” additions in the future! If you have ever played with molecular gastronomy and have any feedback, tips, or suggestions please let me know in the comments below.

Cream Dory with Arugula Spaghetti and Shiitake Mayo

 

 

 

 

Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy with Homemade Tartar Sauce


Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy
Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy
Cajun Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy Board with Blue Moon
Cajun Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy Board with Blue Moon

Have you ever left the movie theater so affected by a film? Perhaps it spoke to you through all of its familiar similarities? That is what happened to me when I watched the incredible film “Chef” by Jon Favreau (which I highly recommend). The Andouille Sausage Po’ Boy scene really made my mouth water, and right then and there I decided I wanted to prepare my own version.

A Po’Boy (Poor Boy) is a style of sandwich popular in Louisiana and several other States in the deep south bordering the Gulf of Mexico. There are different versions depending on where you get them, but in my opinion, the best of all come from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The main reason for this are ingredients of course. Since a Po’ Boy is similar to a Submarine sandwich or a Vietnamese Banh Mi, the bread is super important. Po’ Boys are built on a French bread with a very crispy and flaky crust and extra soft white interior. My favorite Po’ Boy has always been with cornmeal battered fried oysters, dressed simply with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a flaky baguette.

I have yet to find a good source for great fresh oysters in Manila (if you know such a place, please let me know in the comments below) so I decided to go with shrimp.  Typical Shrimp Po’ Boy’s are covered with small fried shrimp. The shrimp in the Philippines are fresh and much cheaper than in the States so I decided to grill up some giant prawns for this project.

Fresh Giant Prawns
Fresh Giant Prawns

I dusted the huge shrimp with my Homemade Cajun Seasoning and grilled them on a hot cast iron griddle with some olive oil and butter.

Cajun Grilled Shrimp on the griddle
Cajun Grilled Shrimp on the griddle

In the past I spent some time working in a Cheesecake Factory, and one of their best sellers is the Shrimp Bacon Club. Inspired by this, I bought the fattest slab of picnic style bacon I could find and had the butcher slice it thick. I baked the bacon in the oven with a little brown sugar until the cracklin (skin) was crispy.

Brown Sugar Baked Picnic Bacon
Brown Sugar Baked Picnic Bacon

 

Extra thick and extra chunky tartar sauce.
Extra thick and extra chunky tartar sauce.

Instead of mayonnaise, I made a extra thick and chunky tartar sauce for the condiment.

Extra Thick and Chunky Tartar Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of drained capers
  • 1 bunch of chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of chopped dill pickles
  • 1 minced purple small onion or shallot
  • 4 rough chopped hard boiled eggs
  • 1 Cup of Homemade Mayo:

 Combine 1 egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon of our favorite mustard, around 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and whisk or place in a food processor. Slowly add 3/4 to 1  cup of oil a little at a time until emulsified. The amount of oil dictates thickness. I use nut oil for it’s light flavor, or a blend of olive oil and vegetable oil. The finished product will have a more delicate flavor and will be less expensive overall than if you were to use only olive oil.

Mix everything together and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want as smother consistency (less like an egg salad) place everything in the food processor.

OK, back to the Po’ Boy. Since the bread is such a major component of this monster sandwich, make sure you prepare it correctly with a liberal slathering of melted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt inside and out.

Baguette and Butter

Buttering the Baguette
Don’t scrimp on the butter; I like to butter even the outside crust of my baguette

Starting from the bottom, lay a thick smear of the homemade tartar sauce and some of my Pickled Red Onions along with a nice dense layer of lettuce to start the sandwich off right.

Baguette and Tartar Sauce

Lettuce and Tartar Sauce on Baguette

I topped this with the sweet and crispy bacon, the spicy shrimp, and some nice juicy and aromatic vine red tomatoes.

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy

 

 

The last of my Homemade Tartar Sauce, Pickled Red Onions and capers finished this masterpiece of a sandwich. To wash everything down I had an American classic beer, Blue Moon. Cheers!

 

Extra Thick Sirloin Burgers



IMG_2814IMG_2828
IMG_2791IMG_2802

I had a massive craving  for a home made  hamburger with Cajun fries over the weekend, but to do it right I had to pick up some essentials.  I’ve been lost in the kitchen without my cast iron skillet to cook with because I left mine back in California. I find the consistent heat of an iron skillet crucial for creating a great burger. Get it smoking hot, add a dash of extra virgin olive oil, and lay your patties away from you so you won’t get splashed. Fifteen seconds on each of the outside layers of your patty with encase all the juice in a nice crust and make for a juicy evenly cooked burger. Continue flipping every fifteen to twenty seconds for even temperature on the entire patty. I usually pull them off the fire and left them rest at right around two minutes for a medium to medium rare depending on thickness. Let them rest for a minimum of the amount of time they cooked.

Lets backtrack and talk about patty construction. Since finding quality ground beef here in the Philippines can be a bit of a challenge I bought two kilos of sirloin steak and requested for the butcher grind it fresh for me. There are many great choices for which cuts of meat to use for example chuck, rib eye, and sirloin are all classic picks. I’m pretty sure the butcher lady thought I was crazy when I asked her to try to keep all the strands of beef aligned as they came out of the grinder. Imagine a pack of spaghetti noodles. So here is a simple trick to the perfect patty.  Assuming the beef is laid out in horizontal strands, place about a kilo worth on a long strip of nice wide cling wrap. Salt the meat well , and with a little time this will keep all those strands from falling apart, and it’s the only binder you need.

IMG_2708 Delicately form into a roll inside a cling wrap cylinder and twist the ends tight like  a sausage casing. Refrigerate for an hours to let the salt do its work binding the  meat together and for the shape to set. Remove the ‘log’ from the fridge and slice  your burgers right through the plastic film. When you cut the patties and lay them  flat and the strands of the burger will then be vertical. So, just like cutting a steak  against the grain, when you bite into the burger it will be super tender. I’m a fan of a small circumference super thick patty vs. a thin huge wafer. Its so much juicier and more tasty that way, even if it looks a little funny until you squish it all down before your first bite.

 

Burgers are all about a combination of flavor. Standing alone the majority of each of my individual ingredients can be a bit strong tasting. But I think I planned the final combination well enough to achieve that “fifth” umami taste sensation.

I didn’t want to do lettuce. Gem lettuce is nice on a burger but usually ends up looking like wilted greens and tasting like not much at all. Ice burg is basically just water. I’ll save my romaine for a salad. I wanted something peppery, and with crunch. The ingredient that wouldn’t get drowned out by all my other strong contenders, and one of my favorite greens is Rocket Arugula.

Sprouts on this burger would provide that clean crispness to perk up some of the stronger aromas. I don’t care if you don’t like alfalfa sprouts. My mom put them on my sandwiches as a kid, so in my mind a burger is ‘missing something’ without them.

Next is avocado.  Maybe I was in Cali too long, and avocado is not something for every burger, but if I’m going with sprouts, I’m going with avocado. I think they go great with lemon pepper, so I made a spice blend of dried citrus rinds paired with crushed red and black peppercorns plus a little Maldon sea salt.  That also went onto of the most aromatic red tomatoes I could find. I almost did tomato compote, but I was going to be getting enough acidity from my aioli so I just went with thick fresh vine tomato slices.

IMG_2702  So on to the condiment. I hate mayo…unless it’s homemade that is. Combine egg  yolk, groundnut oil    (because its neutrally flavored) and a spoon of a wholegrain  horseradish mustard for a little bit of nasal  heat. Whisk until you get it emulsified.  Mince a garlic clove with some salt, the mash it with the side of  your knife. Add  the garlic paste to your mayo. Voila Aioli.

 

 

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Tallegio CheeseSo ok now lets talk cheese. Don’t get me wrong I love the cheapest processed cheese usually to achieve that nostalgic burger. But for this combo of flavors I needed something funky, and with a little bit of blue. I wanted to really make one bite of this burger make your brain hurt trying to figure out what the hell it tastes. I personally don’t like blue cheese. So I went to Santi’s and tried a few different cheeses. Brie de Meaux is cool, great texture and pretty funky. A creamy Gorgonzola is ok…a little too much like wet dog for me though. I found something that looked a little scary, it had a lot of veins of blue but the texture was creamy yet thicker than a Brie. I gave it a taste and the flavor profile took a journey from milky to sour. Then it went from velvety, to aromatic and odorous. The mouth feel was perfect, like all over the place. The name of the cheese is Fourme D’ Ambert and it is now in my top favorite cheeses right up there with freaky Taleggio.

So last but not least bread. You know what, with burger buns I suggest keeping it simple. A toasted white sesame bun will always be a classic with me. It will never be too soggy, and never too overpowering. Brioche is popular but it tends to melt into a sweet wet batter halfway through the meal. Toasted sourdough get a little scratchy, and tough. While there are a ton of good options for buns, try to pick something that really lets what is in between the bread shine.  Smear both sides with that aioli and you are in business.

Oops. I almost forgot the Cajun Battered Fries. Check out my recipe here.IMG_2771

allagash group 007I suggest a smooth ice-cold Belgium wheat beer to drink with this delicious meal. It’s a great pairing and really cleanses the palate of all the strong flavors. Allagash White Ale all day long. Fried potatoes, burgers, beers, yea that sounds like a good end of the week to me.

 

 

 

 

 

I did not take the Allagash picture, I wish I had access to all those varieties in the Philippines. Click here for the original photo.

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Leftovers Makeover: From Easter Dinner to Duck Stew


How it all started… Duck L’Orange with a colorful assortment of roasted Farmer’s Market veggies IMG_0157 IMG_0158 IMG_0161 IMG_0173One of my absolute favorite things to do is to create an entirely different meal out of the random leftovers that are in my fridge. You never know what can happen when you combine hunger and the procrastination to cook something from scratch. Leftover Korean turns into fried rice, perhaps some grilled veggies from the BBQ pit transform into curry, but for some reason the soup version of these meals always turns out the best. Last Easter, I made Duck L’orange and we also made side dishes from some really choice farmers market veggies. Lunch the following day was a different story as I was feeling pretty spent from my epic kitchen Easter marathon. Luckily, I had a ton of beautifully wrapped pre-cooked items ready for their reincarnation. I used the carcass of the duck as well as the drippings, thyme bundle, celery, and carrots as my stock base for the soup. I let this reduce into a very thick stew adding a little wine, a splash of water, and a touch of the zesty l’orange sauce for zing. All I had to do next was simply choose the roasted vegetables I wanted to add from the previous days roasting pan and side dishes. I went with several potatoes, some of the carrots and red onions, and of course garlic. Lastly, I added ground black pepper, and a large handful of picked Italian Parsley leaves and called it a meal.

Kitchen Shortcut: Roasted Toasted Caramelized Garlic in seconds


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Just a quick little post to share a nice kitchen shortcut.  Really helpful for people who like a LOT of garlic ad run out mid meal.

Toasted Garlic in the Microwave:

Place around 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a small glass ramekin with a 1/2 tablespoon of butter

Heat in a Microwave for 15 second intervals at a time for around 2 minutes max, watching closely. This of course depends on your microwave, but I’ve done this in many different models and its pretty consistent. The garlic continues cooking so remove it when it looks “almost” ready.  The container will be hot so be careful. Stir the garlic as the bottom tends to burn.