Friday, March 13, 2009

Buns and Boulud

Last Saturday, we paid an early visit to The Fatty Crab in the Village. We were attending a concert at the Highline Ballroom, and wanted a fun, tasty place to eat before walking to the venue. Along with pickled veggies (spicy), we ordered three Steamed Pork Buns, mostly to compare with Momofuku Noodle Bar. Well, they were good but did not come close to Momofuku's. The sauce was a simple Asian brown sauce, compared to the lovely sweetness at Chang's restaurant. And the bun also lacked the crisp counterbalance of the cucumber. Surprisingly, it may have been the least impressive offering of the meal, as the rest was incredibly tasty and interesting (Fatty Duck, Chicken Clay Pot, Wonton Soup, Coconut Rice). I will definitely return to The Fatty Crab.

And while the Pork Buns from last week did not live up to my expectations, I was blown away last evening with Daniel Boulud's Pork Belly charcuterie at Bar Boulud. We were walking around the Upper West Side after a listening party at Jazz at Lincoln Center, without much focus on where to eat. And across the way I spotted Bar Boulud. We weren't planning on visiting a restaurant of that "caliber," but since we were there, and the menu looked tasty, we said "Why not." And I am so glad we did. The whole meal was quite wonderful, served at a wine-focused communal table in the back of the restaurant. One of the highlights most certainly was the Rillons Croustillants au Poivre: Hot, crispy and tender pork belly with cracked pepper. Served with a bit of mustard sauce and some refreshing leafy greens, a rather large portion of pork belly was presented in two long strips. Alternating between crispy meat and tasty fat, the thick strips were almost too much. I said almost. The taste was just incredible -- I probably could have made a meal out of that dish alone. I must admit that nearing the end it did tend to come across as just slightly dry -- I kept looking for some of the remaining mustard to help with that. But overall, one of the best dishes I have had in quite some time, pork or not. Looking forward to when I find myself across from Lincoln Center, looking for a restaurant.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coffee Braised Pork with Mango Relish

Another from Bravo's Top Chef. I'm definitely trying this sometime, but I'll most likely skip the swiss chard and the truffle oil.

Pork Confit and Tomato Marmalade

You have to like a recipe that begins with "cook a pork shoulder in pork lard." This is from the Bravo Top Chef clips at I'll be posting more of these as I find them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

John Stewart vs. Baconnaise

Here's a good example of a Porksperiment Fiasco. John Stewart dipping a Jimmy Dean's blueberry pancake wrapped sausage into a jar of Baconnaise Light.

To be fair to the Baconnaise makers, Stewart had me (puking) at "blueberry pancake wrapped sausage." It's one of two product signs I can't bear to look at in a grocery store. The other, with thanks to George Carlin, is head cheese.

Baconnaise is made by the folks at JD's Foods, whose motto is "Everything Should Taste Like Bacon." That's "like bacon" without any actual bacon. Their two flagship producets - Baconnaise and Bacon Salt - are so pork-free, they're even kosher.

They also have a blog with a formidable display of porksperiments, even if no pork is involved.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crock Pot Fiasco (sort of)

Last week I tried cooking a pork roast in a slow cooker, along with a mix of sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks, and a cup of broth. There are also these other potatoes I thought would be sweets, but looked like regular spuds on the inside.

I put everything in the crockpot as shown in the "before" picture above, but I think I did something wrong. After 4 hours, the pork was fully cooked, but dried out like I cooked it in the microwave.

I was able to salvage it by slicing it down and mixing in with the cooked broth and veggies. It was absolutely delicious, but it looked like an unappetizing mush. You should have seen how my wife's face transformed from excitement to scorn when she finally saw what smelled so good. Sorry I didn't take an "after" picture.

  1. So what did I do wrong?
  2. Was the pork sitting too high atop the vegetables?
  3. Should the pork have touched the bottom so it could cook partially immersed in the broth?
I'll try that next time, but I'd appreciate any advice.

P.S. - Leeks are my favorite new ingredient. They add a lot of tart, bitter flavor. I like to chop up the whole leek, using as much as possible down to the bottom of the stalk until it's totally white.

Leeks are also, by far, the best vegetable for drumming up and down the produce aisle when you're pretty sure no one is watching. They're like big brushes, perfect for Mitch Mitchell's solo at the beginning of "Up From the Skies."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Momofuku Pork Belly

I made my fourth or fifth trip to Momofuku Noodle Bar a few weeks ago. I was debating whether I should order the roasted tri-tip again (complete with kimchi butter). Instead, I doubled up on the pork. Of course we had to savor Chang's famous pork roll -- that soft little bun, slice of cucumber, that lovely sweet sauce, and the perfectly done slice of pork -- but I needed to go one step further and order the rolled pork belly ramen (from pig farmer Bev Eggleston). Flavored with toasted garlic and miso, it was as good a ramen as it looks . . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slow Cooked Pork Ragu at Porchetta for dinner tonight, wow!

After spending time at the Golden Local Award ceremony and then watching it on NBC 4, I decided to head over to Porchetta on the way home. My dinner was simple, Boylan's Cane Cola , Crispy Potatoes with Burnt Ends & Slow Cooked Pork Ragu With Sullivan Street Bakery Grilled Cibatta. I spoke with one of the partners about the ragu and was told it is a long 3 day process to make it . You can taste the time, flavor & care that goes into every bite. It is after all made out of trimmings that cannot be used for the porchettas.

Here are some pictures from my meal, eaten slowly and happily.
(Click on pictures for larger images)

Buon Appetito!

NBC 4 NY Presents Crif Dogs with NYC's first ever Golden Local Award

Today at 5 PM, NBC 4 went down to Crif Dogs on St Marks Place to present them with their first ever Golden Local Award for NYC's favorite eatery, defeating Gray's Papaya 56 % to 44 %. The voting took place on line from January 27th to February 15th. You can find it here.

New York City's lovers of bacon wrapped, deep fried hot dogs stood up to be counted and helped Crif Dogs win this first ever contest.

The Golden Local Human Trophy was outside Crif Dogs on a rotating platform from 5:30-7:00 PM. Was very cool to see. Part of the presentation was featured on the 7PM broadcast of New York Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough.

Here are a few pictures of The Golden Local Human Trophy on his turntable:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bacon, Garlic & Soy sauce was the start....

A couple of things while I write this first post. One, had I known I was going to get an invite to this blog I would have taken a picture of this dish. Two, I really am not a recipe person. I am more of a do it as you go along type of cook but here goes.

This past weekend, I had some friends in town from Hawaii. We were hanging and talking food when one of my friends said "You have to try spaghetti with bacon, garlic & soy sauce, I had it at a fusion place in Hawaii & loved it." I was told that my challenge was to make this but tweak it a little. We went shopping for dinner and this is what I bought & made. I have to say, the soy sauce element is great with the pasta and the final results went over great at the dinner we all had.

Ingredients (approximated)
1 box #12 spaghetti
8 oz boar's head bacon
5 cloves garlic thinly sliced (like in Goodfellas)
1 pkg trio of mushrooms
1 container grape tomatoes
1 pkg fresh oregano
extra virgin olive oil
Jane's Crazy Salt & Pepper

1. Cook pasta al dente in boiling salted water (try to time this with the preparation of the dish).
2. Cook bacon til crispy in sauté pan, leaving some bacon grease in pan. Once bacon is cooked, remove.
3. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown in bacon fat, remove.
4. Add mushrooms & sauté until cooked.
5. Season to taste.
6. Once mushrooms are cooked, add back in bacon (in smaller pieces) & garlic. Also add the grape tomatoes sliced in half and cook, reduce for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat.
7. Once tomatoes start to cook a little, turn flame off, add fresh oregano, cover and let all of the flavors meld together for around 5 minutes.
8. Add mushrooms, garlic, tomato mixture to cooked pasta, add a few shakes of soy, enough to flavor without overpowering. Mix well, cover pot and let stand another 5 minutes.

Serve & enjoy. It really works well with all of the ingredients adding their own unique flavors.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pork, Scallops, Mango, Ginger and Veggies Stirfry

This was delicious, mixing six of my wife's favorite ingredients - pork, scallops, mango, carrots, snow peas, and ginger. Not sure if this is technically "saute" or "stirfry." The heat was high, but no oil was used. Great stuff regardless. I may have overcooked the scallops by adding them to early. I think adding the scallops last will correct the error. Serve with rice.

Special thanks go out to the Trader Joe's freezer aisle. I used the frozen mango because I had the bag, but would consider using fresh mango pieces in the future. I love using the Dorot brand herbs from the TJ's freezer. They're fresh cut herbs frozen into tiny ice cube trays, and super easy.


1 1/4 lbs center-cut pork chops ( 4 thin, boneless pieces)
1 lb bag of Trader Joe's frozen scallops, defrosted (the small ones)
1 bag of Trader Joes frozen mango chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
1 ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 handfull of snowpeas
Unspecified volumes of White Wine Vinegar (WWV) and Soy Sauce
2-3 cubes each of Dorot frozen basil and garlic

1. Peel outer layer off ginger root. Drop whole naked ginger into mini-prep food processor to chop until pulverized.

2. Slice pork chops and carrots to small scallop-sized pieces. Set carrots aside.

3. Mix ginger in bowl with scallops and pork. Add WWV and soy sauce to marinate. I used just enough to coat meat so the ginger sticks to the pieces (instead of floating in a wetter marinade). Marinade for about an hour.

4. Set skillet to high heat with a little WWV in pan. Add carrots and ginger-coated pork pieces (leave scallops in marinade), stir to brown both sides.

Note: I accidentally overcooked the scallops by adding at this point. I think it should instead go in this order...

5. Add snow peas and frozen mango chunks. The pan should start to sizzle again once the mango defrosts.

6. Add the Dorot basil and garlic cubes, stir until melted and mixed throughout pan.

7. Add scallops and remaining marinade. Cook on high for about 3 minutes.

8. Cover and simmer on low (or no heat) for another couple minutes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bacon Bacoff

Cooked up some bacon this morning for the first time in 9 months - wife was off bacon during her pregnancy and I didn't want to gloat.

The experiment was simple - frying pan vs. microwave. I thought it would be pan all the way, but the nuked strips were indistinguishable from the fried ones. Am I crazy or is there really no difference between the pan and the microwave?