Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cloyed With Fat Meat

I had to go back to the city again, and in my absence the garden really started to flourish; what were tiny sprouts have become small plants in just a few days, thanks to our incredibly warm and sunny April. Last night was the first rain in nearly three weeks, and in response everything has exploded. I actually find myself nostalgic for a couple of weeks ago, when there was a rich subtlety of growth; now it's fireworks and I'm way behind on all the things I was hoping to be on top of this time around. I shouldn't complain. The upside of all the sunny warmth is this amazing growth, and tonight's dinner made good use of it.

To begin, a "risotto" of barley and ramps, with broth made from the BBQ chicken bones from a few nights ago. Delicately smoky, toothsome, and tangy, it made for an excellent first course. We enjoyed it with another 2005 Jacky Blot "Clos de la Bretonnière" Vouvray. The baby Avignon radishes provided a nice garnish. I try to wait to thin most veggies until they're big enough to be food (or at least decoration.) The light smoke flavor paved the way for the next course.

Then, some of the pork belly we got recently for making bacon, which I espresso-rubbed and cooked sous-vide at 67˚ C for two hours, then crisped in a pan (with the skin still on.) It's basically a hunk of bacon. To compensate for the inherent decadence of the fat meat, I made sure to couch it in many healthy vegetables. Thus kabocha purée, parsnips caramelized in a soupçon of smoked duck fat, red kale wilted in a bit of the rendered belly fat, and a sauce of red wine, BBQ sauce, and maple syrup. As a fluffer-conductor of sorts for this orgiastic symphony of sweet succulence, a 2005 La Spinetta Langhe Nebbiolo. I love this wine. Tannic, yet still gorgeous, it was a lean, mean counterwieght to the rich dish. Did I mention that the pork still had the skin on? And that I crisped it up but good in the pan? Can you see it in the picture? That piece of pigskin is as close as I will ever get to being a football fan.

Also, there was salad. Obnoxiously fresh (they squeaked) baby greens from the new bed, since the old one is in full flower and about to become compost. It's a little extra work, but multi-course eating is the way to go; you fill up on less food, and stay full longer. Plus you get to savor the individual ingredients more, and want more of each one since the portions are smaller. Sundays are a good thing.


cook eat FRET said...

apart from the wonderfulness of this dinner... pork belly and barley and ramos and smokey broth and - i loved that to "compensate" for the belly you used duck fat in your veggies. that made me smile.

but apart from all of this - i am campaigning against two words - yummy and toothsome. both of them give me the total heebyjeebies.

now you know and can file that info away...

genevelyn said...

The pork belly looks divine on the show plates you've been making lately. (And you can write; btw, toothsome, love it) I wish I had a house husband like you Peter.

peter said...

Claudia: I find that toothsome is a near-perfect equivalent to "al dente" and thus a useful word. I agree that yummy is lame, and hence forth will replace it with "yum-o" because I know how much you love Rachel Ray.

Genevelyn: Thanks. I get that a lot.

Zoomie said...

Trust you to make pork rind sound like heaven! Keep toothsome.

Brittany said...

we're doing a barley risotto at the restaurant right now and I think I like it better than the standard-issue aborio.
Of course, you've gone a made pork belly to go with it which makes you my new hero.
And yeah- the word toothsome is so bad ass....but for god's sake- don't say yum-o. It's beneath you.

peter said...

Hi Brittany- I like the barley too from a flavor point of view, though because it's less starchy it doesn't do the creamy texture thing quite as well. (Though in a restaurant you guys have cream and butter to fall back on, which I left out due to the pork belly.)

The Yum-O thing was sarcasm. Again, harder to communicate in print. I do not love, admire, or respect the Rachel Ray.