Here’s my take on quail scotch eggs. The recipe is rather simple but it does require some attention to cooking times unless you want to serve quail scotch rubber balls. I know it sounds kinda daunting deep-frying a hard-boiled egg, especially a tiny one like a quail egg but it isn’t that hard, like I said, just keep an eye on them and your timer. A few tries might be needed until you get the hang of it. Have an ice bath ready right next to your pot of boiling water and your deep frying pot at 375F and follow the instructions below. Good luck!
Ok, yes, I got extremely lazy this time and chose the easy way out. Pork meat already marinaded… as in.. the marinade sits in the pack with the raw pork… roll your eyes all you want but it looked like heaven to me. I haven’t done this in at least 10 years. I remember back in my microwave-dinner days discovering Trader Joe’s. The dark ages, sure… but they had this carne asada deal that was: a . m . a . z . i . n. g… in my memories it is amazing, like when you explain to a younger person how awesome that original tv show V was…… watch it now. Ok.. moving on.
Overtime I got more a more interested in controlling more aspects of cooking including marinades and if you’ve been keeping up with this blog, that “interest” went well beyond marinades. But I couldn’t resist the convenience of grabbing a pack of pork with an extra ton of infused flavour and sear it and mix it with ramen noodles and a ton of chalula sauce. That right there pretty accurately describes what went down here. I mean, why bother posting a recipe for stuff like this. Seriously all it takes is 3 ingredients, one pot and welcome to the jungle. Going wrong ain’t an option.
Before we go any further I want to warn you. I just participated in the killing of a pig. I also documented it with pictures. I will do my best to avoid excessively-graphic imagery but as you may know, the process of butchering an animal is a dramatic event so if you’re not comfortable with this kind of content kindly skip this post. I will stick to the facts and present this subject as mindfully and respectfully as possible and only to show and share my love and appreciation for food, cooking and all that it entails.
As a meat eater, I was feeling compelled to witness and participate in the butchering of an animal. I felt that without doing so… eating meat was just a convenient luxury, far removed from the harsh reality of taking life to feed people. I also wanted to participate out of respect for the animals and the butchering craft that I know so little about. I thought If I were to continue to eat meat, I needed exposure to the entire story. And not the theory which we can all look up somewhere. I needed to see what was really involved. There’s drama in the act of killing no matter how “humanely” the killing is carried out. Our butchering instructor minimized suffering and worked as swiftly as possible.
I will admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of tamales in general until like 2 weeks ago. I had some amazing ones at the farmer’s market here in Brentwood. Usually, when I get them at other places it’s always same story… dry, boring, bland, like what’s the point of all this. I thought they were hopeless and could never understand their popularity… well, until the farmers market incident. That there changed my whole view on tamales. There was definitely hope! I went from “f-off tamales”… to… “I love tamales” in one bite. I also went straight to the groceries store and got a beautiful pork shoulder which I roasted in preparation for the tamale feast that was about to take place only a few days after.
I’m not mexican but I’m no stranger to corn masa flour either. I’m from venezuela, corn masa is the venezuelan equivalent of bread. We eat corn masa 7 days a week with pretty much every meal… although I still prefer bread personally (sorry guys! I do)..hmmmm bread…I love gluten too btw.
I’m also no stranger to pork. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time you know piggies definitely go on the menu pretty often. And stuffing anything with pork is the most effective way to ensure success and popularity in the non-vegetarian world. I like to think I’m right in assuming this.
I’m in the other hand a bit of a newbie when it comes to cooking with chiles, specially dried ones. I’ve used them a few times in the past (in one occasion I had to evacuate my apartment, it was like a can of pepper spray went off in there after opening the pressure cooker, that was some serious heat my friends, which I could remember the kind of chile I was using) but I haven’t really experimented with them much since. So I figured, I have this beautiful piece of pork, I got these dry chiles, I have a renewed hope in the mexican staple… it’s inevitable. It must be. Tamales happened.
Another one of those recipes that almost got left behind during my transition to a self -hosted account. I took the photos weeks ago and I even uploaded them to my site but never got around to write about it which is weird.. guess was distracted by trying not to destroy my blog while making changes to it. It’s happened before.
I love pork chops but they can go wrong pretty easily. They overcook really quick. And you know what that’s like.. yeah… rubber soles. Totally unattractive. If you have the time and the equipment go sous vide. No doubt about that. If you don’t, then sear the meat in a really hot pan a couple of minutes per side. Obviously we’re dealing with pork and we need to make sure it is safe to eat. Trichinosis is a concern and pork should be cooked throughly. Cooking meat throughly doesn’t mean overcooking it though. The parasite in question actually dies at fairly low temperatures which is great news. This excerpt from a USDA document is interesting:
Cooking – Commercial preparation of pork products by cooking requires that meat be heated to internal temperatures which have been shown to inactivate trichinae. For example, Trichinella spiralis is killed in 47 minutes at 52° C (125.6° F), in 6 minutes at 55° C (131° F), and in < 1 minute at 60° C (140° F). It should be noted that these times and temperatures apply only when the product reaches and maintains temperatures evenly distributed throughout the meat. Alternative methods of heating, particularly the use of microwaves, have been shown to give different results, with parasites not completely inactivated when product was heated to reach a prescribed end-point temperature. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for processed pork products reflects experimental data, and requires pork to be cooked for 2 hours at 52.2° C (126° F), for 15 minutes at 55.6° C (132° F), and for 1 minute at 60° C (140° F).
But how can one translate this into a recipe? If you’re cooking the meat sous vide… it’s a no brainer. Set the water bath to 125.6F and cook the meat until the core has spent 47 minutes at this temperature for example. Of course. bear in mind that depending on the thickness of the chop, the total cooking time will need to be calculated. It’s usually a few hours for individual chops just like the paragraph above suggests. Check out my pork chop recipe cooked sous vide with cucumber and pineapple salad.
Now, if you’re cooking the chops on a skillet… things get a bit trickier and experience plays a big role in getting the meat cooked through but not overcooked. The thicker the chop, the trickier it gets. The leaner the chop, the quicker it overcooks… a total kitchen nightmare. I personally observe a few things while pan searing pork chops at home which has helped me quite a bit:
Eggs, Pisto and Pork Bits! Yeah, this is gonna be a quick update and a quick recipe. I have finally migrated my old wordpress.com site entirely over to this new .org world. Wasn’t easy. Today I spend the day redirecting URLs, optimizing images, fixing broken links. This the the cool thing about self-hosting. You have access to all these free tools to make your site better so that’s what I did today. Took a long time but it’s definitely a lot faster now. Next step: Work on the look of the blog itself. I have a few ideas but it will take some time, specially because I have zero css/php coding experience. It’s gonna be interesting.
Anyways, Eggs, Pisto and pork bits. That was last night dinner. Pisto is something I grew eating. I love its simplicity. Some bell peppers, some onions, some tomatoes, some garlic, salt and pepper. I love it a bit sharp so I add some lemon juice at the end. Bell peppers can be overwhelmingly sweet. Nothing wrong with that but…. So, chop a couple of bell pepper, half and onion, add about 1/2 Tsp tomato paste or a few nice ripe tomatoes, a bit of garlic and some salt and pepper. Sauté until everything is soft… about 15 mins. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated…make sure to be seasoning with salt as you go and sure, you can add some pepper as well. Try to get some caramelization going too… and when everything looks happy, remove from the fire and add a splash of lemon juice. Let it rest and add a bit of water at the end. It should be creamy in the end. Ah, I added my leftover green beans from that pork and chicken paella recipe.
Before we get into this paella de pollo y cochino let me explain where I’ve been these last 3 weeks (I did mention it in the previous post but I still have a bit left I need to get out of my system). So 3 weeks agoI was getting ready to move my site to a self hosted site. I think moving houses would have been less work and less nerve wrecking. I was in panic mode for a week after accidentally deleting my MySQL tables and lost the entire contents of my blog. When I tried to re-import the site from wordpress.com, not all the posts were coming through and after 48 hours of having a completely broken website I took matters into my own hands… and installed wordpress.org by hand. I had to do this in order to install the specific version (and older one) that seemed to actually work well and not screw up the import.
I think 48 hours is all it takes for search engines to give up on you if they don’t see you. My blog disappeared from the internets of the world. Dropped off every imaginable search engine index and remained in limbo until today. I had to resubmit sitemaps and force new crawls, repair broken links, and do a ton of maintenance. Today google is liking me a bit better now and I’m waiting for Bing and Yahoo to catch up. I think it will be a week until traffic is restored and things go back to the way they were. Have questions about how to mess up a blog in 10 seconds. I’m your guy. Paella de pollo y cochino is what this post is all about so I will spare you with anymore of this boring tech whatever and jump back into the cooking arena with a new recipe. New for this blog. One of the first things I learned how to cook many years ago.
So this paella, like any paella is very easy to make and requires very few ingredients. For the making of paella featuring chicken, pork, beef or similar meats, the approach is basically the same. I grew up eating it. My mom and my aunt still make it, and though they have their own style and approach, the end result is the same at heart. Beautiful dish. Anyways, for making paella I can break down the process is 4 components. They are all basic techniques and anybody at home with a decent pan, a good knife and a cutting board should be able to prepare this dish in around 2 hours. Here we go!
Boneless Pork Center Loin Cut Sous Vide. I didn’t even want to eat this thing it looked so damn pretty. Awesome roast..well, a roast of sorts. Having to roast in the oven or on a grill is fun and I love it with all the inaccuracies involved, they still yield delicious results. In our 80F degree weather, this approach isn’t as fun. My tiny apartment gets pretty hot without the help of an oven. The radiation from the sun alone can heat the place up to above 80F (I have an AC unit now, tiny portable one thanks to my landlady, and that helps but still) Running the oven would be close to suicidal but sous vide comes to the rescue.
Let me sound like a late night infomercial for a second here. If you ever wanted to eat like royalty but still had to cook it yourself because you aren’t royalty (maybe you are, I’m not), this dinner, if you like pork, might be the answer and it takes about 15 minutes to make. When it comes to cooking efficiency and flavor intensity, asian cuisine always comes to the rescue… italian cuisine could also come to the rescue and perhaps many others but let’s stay focused, we can talk about other cuisines in another post.
Pork of great quality at the local store. Not frozen, just beautiful and fresh looking. I’ve talked about mushrooms in the past and how great they are here in Vancouver, so I will repeat myself and say, these mushrooms are incredible, so delicious. Beautiful iceberg lettuce and green onions. Organic everything. I couldn’t resist to put together a quick weekday dinner, take some photos and hit the publish button, specially since I’ve been MIA (again) for a few days.
I’ve been working on another recipe that involves trout, and I ran into a couple of problems (ok, I burned the thing) so I decided to postpone that post until I find another beautiful trout. I went looking for one today, and no luck. They have the most amazing rainbow trouts at the store, I just have to be patient. I could use another fish, but there’s something beautiful about these trouts (I’m literally hypnotized by them) and you can buy them whole, so I’ve been practicing deboning and filleting them. I’m a little less destructive now. Anyway, back to the pork loin. Take that umami factor, then add sweetness, saltiness, garlickiness(?) sourness, and what do you end up with? a 20 minute royal dinner. I told you. And here’s how:
Ingredients (makes 2 servings):
1 fresh and beautiful medium or small pork loin
1 green onion, root bit removed, thinly sliced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 or 2 cups of assorted mushrooms (trumpets, chanterelles, shiitake, whatever you like)
1 or 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp sugar (honey, maple syrup would be really nice)
3 Tbsp Soy sauce or Tamari Sauce
2 Tbsp of Rice vinegar, I used white wine vinegar, it’s what I had
3 or 4 cups of iceberg lettuce leaves, any lettuce could work, bok choy!
1. Salt the loin (liberally) and let to rest while you prep everything else. Doesn’t matter if it’s cold. We’re gonna cook it and all will be well in the end. Oh, you can cut the loin in half crosswise so it will fit the pan. Let’s continue.
2. To make the pickled lettuce. Get the lettuce leaves in a pot, with the vinegar and half the butter. Medium heat, covered. The vapor will wilt it, this cooks rather quickly, so keep an eye on it. Once the pot’s steaming. Cooking for about 5 minutes or until wilted, but not mushy. Stir to mix butter, vinegar and lettuce. Set aside.
3. Make the mushroom medley. Add butter, mushrooms and sprinkle some salt on a pan, over medium high heat. Brown the mushrooms and the butter for something like 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
4. Searing the pork loin. Add enough vegetable oil to a pan to coat the bottom, preferably a stainless steel pan so you can later deglaze the fond. Brown the pork loin on all sides getting a nice caramelization. If the pork loin was cold from the fridge, it won’t cook at the center when the surface is perfect. If you have a thermometer, use it. Insert the tip and get a reading at the core. I was at 8 degrees celsius (about, 46F, pretty cold) even when the outside of the meat was already cooked. There are 2 things you can do. You can finish in the oven which is pretty standard. But I was feeling too lazy tonight. I finished on (in?) the pan. Here’s how:
5. Finishing the meat on the pan. Once the surface of the loin is nice and browned, remove the loin form the pan. Remove excess oil from the pan. Return the pan to the stove. Deglaze with some water, a couple of Tbsp would do. Make sure all the brown bits come loose. Lots of steam at this point. Cleaner pan too. Reduce the heat to medium low. Return the loin pieces to the pan. Cover the pan. This is the most important part, because we want to finish the loin by steaming it. Lots of the juices from the meat will play part in this awesome phase helping with the steam generation. Give it like 10 minutes. I adjust the stove temperature just so I can keep steam going, add more water if it needs it, but only little by little. We’re not making soup. Again, the thermometer comes out again, does its thing and if it reads around 57C or 135F you should be good. I took the meat off the stove earlier, probably at around 54C, it will continue to heat up by a few degrees, the carryover heat does the final bit of work. If you don’t like the loin slightly pink at the center, then leave it on the stove until it reaches 57C – 58C.. it will be 60C after you remove it from the stove. This all might sound a little tricky, or complicated, but it is simple and repetition/practice helps.
6. The glaze. Here is my favorite part. The’s a bit of really flavorful juice on that pan by now. Add the soy sauce, the sugar, and reduce away on medium high heat. Toss in half the spring onion slices and the garlic. Stir, let it all bubble up and reduce until syrupy. If it goes too dry, add a little water, if it’s too water, reduce some more. Takes a few minutes, but it’s fan to watch. And the smells of asian cooking will fill the house and appetites will get all worked up at this point.
7. Coating the pork. Return the pork loin piece to the pan, and glaze them. Coat them, making sure to let them rest in this syrup for a little bit, while you get ready to plate.
8. Plating. Add the pickled lettuce and the mushroom medley to the plates, by now, the glaze will be slightly firmer because is not as hot. You can coat the meat again, and then transfer to a cutting board.
9. More plating. The pork should have had enough time to rest by now, so you don’t run the risk of cutting it too early and all the juices running out. So, using your best and sharpest knife (I’ve destroyed many wonderful pieces of meat using dull or serrated knives) Slice the pork loin and serve according to your liking.
10. And more plating. The remaining glaze in the pan won’t go to waste. Add a little water, bring the pan back to the stove, heat up the liquid, reduce quickly, and drizzle the sauce over your mushrooms and lettuce. Garnish your plates with the reminder of the green onion slices. And done. You’re eating like royalty.
It might seem as if meat is the only thing featured on this blog. What’s wrong with that? 🙂 no, seriously, I will make an effort to bring more vegetable centric dishes to this site. I want to write about the beautiful produce available in the region and I also want explore seafood more extensively, but that’s all coming up. Today’s post is about pork, and about exploring the wonderful orange sweet and sour glaze. Yes… if you like pork, you know what I’m talking about.
Last night while catching up with some food related reading I visited my friend Dan’s blog myeasychineserecipes.com and I was immediately tempted. His sweet and sour pork chops recipe looked so great. I don’t cook a lot of chinese dishes at home because quite frankly is a bit intimidating, definitely not my comfort zone, but I love chinese cuisine. Dan’s awesome blog has helped me understand that it was all in my head and that cooking chinese and other asian dishes is approachable by people with little experience in the field… like me. Check it out. It’s incredibly cool.
I have to apologize, I didn’t measure anything, but I will try to give approximate measurements. If you’re confident in the kitchen, you’re probably ok with this, if not, my advice is to taste as you go and adjust which is what I did. Don’t taste raw pork though, that would be silly and dangerous.
I also had to improvise a little bit, because I didn’t have ketchup or fresh oranges. Why is my fridge ketchupless is a mystery. Not having fresh oranges is more understandable, it’s almost winter time, but that’s not an excuse here in California where we have oranges all year round. I simply forgot to get them at the store. Luckily I had boxed orange juice, why not. Never cooked with it, perfect occasion to try it. In the end, the glaze is seasoned to taste, so balancing the acidity, sweetness and saltiness has to be done by … exactly… tasting the ingredients. Even when adding five spice powder, you can taste and adjust it. Bear in mind though, this mix will be reduced to a third if not more once cooked, so the flavors of the glaze will intensify quite a bit. And that’s great, they will coat the pork chops, a thin layer of it will have a great deal of flavor but shouldn’t overpower the chops.
2 pork chops (bone in, in this case)
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tbs soy sauce
4 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp Tomato Sauce
3 tsp Soy Sauce + more to rub the chops
1 tsp Sriracha Sauce (have I mentioned I can’t stop eating this thing)
1/4 tsp Five Spice Powder
1/2 C sushi rice
Splash of mirin wine
Salt to taste/fish sauce
To prep the chops. Pat them dry with paper towels. Pour a bit of soy sauce over them, and rub evenly. Let rest and prepare the glaze.
To prepare the glaze. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, adjust until you’re happy with the sweet and sour/savory levels.
To make the rice. Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the it runs clear and there’s no more starch. Place rice in a pot with cold water and the salt. Cover with 3 times the rice volume in water. Bring to a simmer. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom or to itself. Simmer for about 6 minutes. Rinse, place in a bowl (I used the same pot) and add a splash of mirin, taste and adjust salt. Reserve
To sear the chops. Ok, Searing pork chops and overcooking pork chops are almost inseparable… it is tricky, specially if the pork chops aren’t thick enough. To help things, I did something that I learned a while ago and I want to share in case you find it useful. Basically, I don’t bring pork chops to room temperature. I want the a bit cold because that will protect the core temperature. I ONLY sear one side, and par-sear the other, I don’t care if the flip side doesn’t look beautiful, I’ll keep that in mind when I’m plating and present the nicely seared side on top. Ideally, the core temperature should be 60C or 140F. But that’s tricky to measure with a thin chop. If you can find double chops, or a whole rack, then the task to achieve the right temperature is a little easier. And if you use sous vide equipment then is a no brainer. But for a quick sunday dinner, a few traditional cooking tips and some practice can yield phenomenal results. No more dry rubbery pork chops please! Once the pork is seared, remove from the pan and keep the pan hot over the fire.
To make the glaze. Add the glaze mixture to the hot pan and deglaze the brown bits from searing the chops. I also add the liquid from the resting plate. Reduce the liquid until it becomes syrupy and bubbly. Should take a few minutes. Remove pan from the heat. Add the seared pork chops to the pan and using tongs, coat them with the glaze. You can remove the pork chops form the pan now. Let them rest for about 4-5 minutes before plating.
To plate. Add some rice to a small oiled/buttered bowl and gently press it to make it more compact but don’t mash the rice, keep it fluffy. Set a plate on the countertop. Gently tap the inverted rice bowl on the plate. The rice mound will keep its shape and sit nicely on the plate. Garnish with parsley or cilantro. I used parsley. Bring the pork chops to the plate and arrange to your liking. Serve immediately.
And that’s it. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes and it makes for an amazing meal. I’ve never made these pork chops before because sweet and sour recipes are a bit intimidating. I love to eat them but I had little experience on how to make them. Recently I started to experiment more with sweet and sour flavors. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more confident at trying new things in the kitchen and that’s paying off. Super fun, not to mention absolutely delicious. Take good care!