pan de jamon

Christmas Holliday venezuelan recipe, and possibly the only true all venezuelan recipe. Super simple and delicious.

Dough:

1 highly active yeast packet
3 cups bread flour
4 tbsp butter
3/4 whole milk
1/4 water (to proof the yeast)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 egg yolk + 1 tbs water + 1tbs sugar for wash

Mix everything, knead until awesome, let rise, 1 hour, deflate, roll it flat, the flatter the better (2mm thick), a pasta machine crossed my mind, then lay the filling on top, and roll the dough, press ends shut and puncture body several times with a tooth pick to let air out while baking. you don’t want your roll to explode.

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Filling to your liking:

Serrano ham thinly sliced.
green olives, stuffed with bell peppers
raisins.

I made a blasphemous version with microwaved dehydrated roma tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, sprinkled a little salt… sorry, but this was better than a pizza by a 100 times 😉

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this can give you a pretty good idea of how to lay the ingredients over the dough before making it into a roll.

DIY bacon

DIY bacon

Pork belly, not an easy thing to find around this neighbourhood. you can either go to a real butcher, and there aren’t that many out there that would sell this, so do your research before wasting your time. you can also get it online, but that isnt as exciting. You wanna know what’s even more exciting? Starting your DIY bacon project right now. 

DIY Bacon

DIY Bacon

Making bacon is a 2 step process, first you have to “wet” cure it, and then you have to slow cook it (smoke it) to dry it even further and develop more flavor. I didn’t smoke mine. I will try that later, I dont have a smoker and smoking in my oven… not ready for that yet!

1 lb of pork belly (You can easily scale up this recipe)

Dry Cure:

12g sea salt
9g brown sugar
3g pink curing salt
0.5g black pepper corns.
0.5g coriander seeds, toasted, ground.
2 cloves crushed.
3 juniper berries, crushed.

Herbs I like:

8 marjoram springs

or

2 tbsp minced rosemary
2 tbsp minced parsley

So how much pink salt is good enough… which isn’t a bad question since pink salt needs to be handled with caution. Well, I’ve based my percentages on a recipe that appears on the Modernist Cuisine Kitchen Manual, page 107.

For every 100g of meat: use 0.6g of pink salt.
For every 100g of meat: use 2.5g of salt.

One more note: Insta Cure #1 and D.Q. Curing pink salt are the same thing, same concentration.
Insta Cure #2 contains nitrates and is ONLY used for dry curing over long periods of time.

DIY Bacon

Ok, pink curing salt is a blend of about 94% table salt and 6% sodium nitrite which although not a healthy thing to eat at high concentrations, the concentration in this brine is so low that is virtually harmless and what it does is inhibiting the growth of bacteria (botulism) which is the purpose of curing to begin with.
DIY Bacon

now mix all the ingredients and rub away. I used a food processor to mix everything up. then I threw the pork belly in a ziplock bag and with my hand rub the paste all over it. minimal mess.

DIY Bacon

this pork belly piece is ready to be sealed. I partially submerged the bag in a pot filled with cold water to get most of the air out of the bag and I zipped the bag. it will be 7 days before this is cured. every day, turn the bag over, to ensure even curing.

DIY Bacon

7 days and after many turns this is what I ended up with. By the way, I didn’t use the ziplock bag, instead I wrapped the belly in cheesecloth with seem to have worked amazingly well. This thing smells so good. Now we have to clean it up and get it ready for the oven.

DIY Bacon

Here it is after cleanup, really good color and scent. I should have removed the rind… or not…
DIY Bacon

Here it is after 3 hours at 200f in the oven, a bit toasty on the outside, very nice and pink in the inside, ready.

DIY Bacon

after vacuum sealing:

DIY Bacon

done.

DIY Bacon

coq au vin

Browning and degalzing, that’s the name of the game, to develop complex rich flavors in every step of the process. The order in which components are browned is not important, all the components will end up in the same pot and cook slowly for a couple of hours, thats where depth and complexity will be layered together, creating the most delicious wine reduction to coat the chicken thighs.

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs
1/2 cup of bacon or salt pork, small dice.
Basic Mirepoix
15 perl onions
15 button mushroom
Bunch of thyme
4 garlic cloves
Bay leaf… or 3 small ones like i used, preferably turkish.
1 bottle of pinot noir
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of tomato paste. I used my home made tomato sauce instead, so about a cup.
2 cups of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Stainless steel pot or a cast iron dutch oven is a must for this to work the best. The reason, in order to brown fast and create a deglazable fond things need to stick to the bottom of the pot, being careful not to burn anything, but making sure to get a nice rich golden brown color, then deglaze with water or wine and on to the next component. Main components to process this way, bacon, chicken, pearl onions, mushrooms and the mirepoix (leave this one for last).

First we gotta render the fat from the bacon, once crispy, remove bacon from the pot and save for later, leave fat in the pot.

Then the chicken, don’t over crowd the pan, try browning on all sides, medium heat, don’t let anything burn, control the browning, keep an eye on the stove, even if things stick to the pan, don’t panic, let those bits brown and then deglaze. Once deglazed, wait until the liquid boils down to be able to brown the next batch, patience. The chicken can be left in the fridge overnight without covering it, so the skin dries up, this will quicken the browning process.

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Now the perl onions, these can go all at once, and since their water content is so high, heat can be turned up and still be safe. Make sure to get a nice golden finish.

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Now the mushrooms, this one step is interesting, butter goes in, after all the previous browning there’s a need to add extra fat to keep going, but one thing for sure, these mushrooms that brown in this fat and butter and the brownings of previously deglazed stuff are just incredible, you could stop there and forget about finishing the dish 😉

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Then finally the mirepoix goes in, I like to sweat this for a bit, get some browning if possible, it is hard, because theres so much water in the veggies that makes it extremely hard for anything to caramelize, but again, patience, eventually it will but don’t go too far with it.

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In goes the garlic, I’d be careful here as well, most thing can be browned, but garlic goes bitter rather easily, don’t let any garlic to go brown, light golden finish is all that’s needed.

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And the final touches, some herbs to infuse some more notes into the dish, bay leaves, bunch of thyme, add the tomato paste here as well. Salt and pepper later, remember, this needs to cook for a long time, and reduce the sauce. The concentration of this braising liquid will go up.

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The rest is about time and patience, since this dish is about braising, the amount of time will dictate how soft the chicken thighs get. About 2 hours is good (but different cooking times yield different textures, and overcooking the thighs is not what I want. Once finished cooking, do 2 things:

Put the chicken aside and strain the sauce through i fine sieve. Then place the strained liquid back in the pot (clean the pot before doing this) and reduce the sauce to a glaze. Extremely consecrated flavor at this point. Mix in bacon bits, mushrooms and perl onions. Let sit for 24 hours.

Done

simply tomato sauce

Simplest sauce ever.. and this method yields silky, no seed, no fuss tomato sauce!

1, 2 3… however many pounds of super ripe tomatoes you want to process!

Make a cross cut on bottom of each tomato. make sure you remove any bruised areas that maybe too deteriorated.

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in a big stock pot with about an inch or two of water bring to a boil. the steam will soften the skins, no need to waste gallons of water or spend an hour bringing it to a boil.

remove the skins, I dumped the tomatoes in my sink and let them cool off for a few minutes. cut the stem part off including white flesh near it. mash them with your hand inside the big pot. hand blend until liquified.

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strain tomato juice to remove all the seeds. this is the easiest way I know for doing this. it will take less than a few minutes. way faster than seeding them by hand which is a bit wasteful too.

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lay skins on silpads and dry in the oven until crispy, low temperature if you don’t want to brown them. you can roast them a bit too, up to you. eventually you can make a powder in the spice grinder and add it to the sauce, adds flavor and color.

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bring strained tomato juice to a boil for cooking and reducing, reduce until thick and awesome. about an hour and a half. mix your skin powder.

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done.

zucchini bread

makes a nice and very light almost crumbly zucchini bread. the “twist”… pre pan roast the zucchini.

1.5 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of pan roasted zucchini (grate and pan roast until reduced and nicely roasted on the golden side)
1.5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs beaten
2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbs kosher salt

mix solids and liquids separately until ready for baking. baking soda activates in the presence of acid (lemon juice) so delay mixing until oven is ready to maximize fluffiness 🙂

heat oven at 350f and bake for 30-45 mins.

dust with confectionary sugar on top.

we should try this recipe next and not peel the zucchini:

recipe

done

lentils

ralphs lentils half a bag

small onion
small carrot
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon chicken stock paste
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon tomato paste
5 small creamy potatos sliced
2 thick bacon strips

develop flavor, brown bacon, deglaze, brown aromatics, roast lentils a bit too.

add everything together but cover with enough water, about 3 cups.

pressure cook. 10 mins.

add potatos

pressure cook 5 mins.

simmer until awesome.

done.

pork shoulder roast

4 pound pork shoulder bone in it

brine:

12 garlic cloves
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 sugar
3 celery stalks
2 Tbs rosemary
2 Tbs marjoram

(maybe a little acidic component could be added like mustard or vinegar)

brine for 24 to 48 hours in fridge.

30 mins 400f
2 hours 220f

(if Millard reaction not enough, increase temp to 400 for as long as needed, 10 to 15 more mins)

let rest for 20 mins, this is super important, unless you want your meat to lose tons of moisture.

done.

 

basic French bread

 

3 cups of bread flour (not all purpose flour)
1.5 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
1.5 cups warm water

Check adjusted bread recipe by weight units and a few tweaks in the process here!

Check out some pretty useful bread making tips here!

makes one big happy loaf

mix ingredients well with a mixer or with a spatula or fork. try to get air into the mix but yeast will take care of getting you the so needed bubbles of carbon dioxide CO2 🙂 stretch and fold 800 times, as suggested by Julia child. gluten should be stretchy.

let stand 90 mins (first rise). flatten, take air out, knead but not too much the second time, add flour if needed. do the elasticity test, make sure the gluten is worked till the dough is stretchy. shape in the form of baguettes. let rest for another 30 mins. second rise.

get a pizza stone if you can, the finish of the bread is really nice.

heat up your oven prior to any cooking too 425ish f. and let the stone at least rest at max temp for 20 mins.

place dough on the stone which you can dust with some flour (be careful, stone is super hot) you could throw a cup of water in the oven to rise the humidity so the crust doesn’t form too early, you can do this a couple of times, experience is everything here.

return stone in the oven, 30 mins and check. check interior temperature, around 212 is all you need. let bread rest outside oven for 20 mins before slicing. allows starches to set.

done

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making bread tips

in no discernible order:

1. stretch test, after kneading, the dough should stretch without breaking. then it’s ready to let stand. Also google, window pane test for brioche breads, and more buttery pastry breads.

2. organic flour the best, there is gluten flour and bread flour, investigate 🙂

organic bread flour

high gluten flour

difference between a.p.f. and bread f.

3. Once dough reaches and internal temperature close to the boiling point 98c which is the temp at which starches gel (pretty useful piece of info), the bread is done. sounds like you could make bread in a microwave without browning. Check microwave brioche!

4. after mixing the ingredients and before kneading, allow to rest for 20 mins for water to get fully absorbed. Autolyse. Here, there’s an excerpt from the wikipedia entry on proofing:

Autolyse is an optional dough process. It refers to a period of rest after the initial mixing of flour and water, a rest period that occurs sequentially before the addition of yeast and other ingredients.[8][9] This rest period allows for better absorption of water and helps the gluten and starches to align. Breads made with autolysed dough are easier to shape and have more volume and improved structure.”

5. Four to six hours to rest after kneading at room temperature of 72f, the hotter the room the faster it will rise and the less the flavors will develop. slower rise better flavor. I have never let rising for more than 2 hours, and have yet to slow rise in the freezer, so far, an hour to an hour and a half has been enough.

6. after first rise, knead quickly but don’t overwork, just get rid of any big pockets of gas. let rest for about 2 hours.

7. Oven spring!!! ok, im updating this posting, I underestimated the power of a hot oven, specially in the first few minutes of baking. In order to get the most oven spring, bread needs to heat up really fast, before the crust solidifies (read below), and become hot enough that water in the dough and CO2 can expand the most. Then! you can set the oven oven at 425-450. pizza stone or flipped cast iron pan, a Dutch oven would work too. let oven preheat, an hour is not unreasonable.

8. keep some humidity inside the oven helps keep the crust from setting to fast, and why would you want this? well, because if you want bread to rise, you gotta keep the crust soft, otherwise, the dry crust will contain the volume of the bread, stopping its expansion. You can spray water in the oven. maybe pour a cup or 2 of water in a baking sheet. As long as you dont over do it, remember that every time you open the oven door, the temperature drops.

9. allow the bread to rest for 30 mins at room temp. this is needed to allow the starches to gel and set.

10. bread goes stale even faster in the fridge. freeze or keep at room temperature.

some example bread recipes:

Dutch oven bread

English muffin

French bread

boeuf bourgignon

crazy good:

2lbs beef for stew
1 bottle of cab
3 strips of thick bacon
2 onions
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
10 white mushrooms
chicken broth
5 garlic cloves
cup of tomato sauce
2 tbs flour
thyme
parsley
bay leaves
salt
pepper

it’s all about caramelization of the meat in batches, deglazing the bottom of the pot used for browning, bacon fat, caramelizing the veggies as well, deglaze, keep bottom from burning, do not pressure cook and roast in oven instead for 2:30 hours. this way it wont burn at the bottom.