Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly

If you’ve been reading here any length of time at all, you know I love me some pork belly – there are five different recipes on this blog that include it in some way or another.

Make that six.

I’ve been using the sous vide enough to make it a good investment, but haven’t really posted any recipes for it other than the Homemade Yogurt.  The reasons for this are varied – it’s not a common household item, I’m not really crazy about the texture the sous vide gives very tender cuts of red meat, like beef tenderloin and venison backstrap (those should be simply cooked – broiled or grilled, really; the sous vide gives them a slightly mushy texture), the one time I made salmon in it I had the temp too high and over-cooked the fish.

Now, having said all that, I LOVE the way pork comes out of the sous vide (and you know how I feel about pork), and pork belly is no exception.  And for all of my recipes for slow roasted pork belly and braised pork belly and glazed pork belly and crispy pork belly, I do believe this is the very best pork belly I’ve ever made.  The sous vide made brining or curing the pork in advance unnecessary; the fat that didn’t render out was incredibly succulent and the meat was firm, yet juicy and tender.  The coffee-peach glaze infused the cut with marvelous flavor – it was just delicious.

This does take a little planning – I wouldn’t suggest immersing the sealed pork belly in the sous vide for less than 24 hours, but once it’s there, you can pretty much walk away and forget all about it until you’re ready to finish it off, which takes less than 15 minutes.

I’m also not going to apologize for the use of the peach preserves – they were high quality, homemade preserves that contained nothing but peaches, pure cane sugar and pectin.  And, because almost all of the glaze is poured off at the end, just a small fraction of that 1/3 of a cup remains in the entire recipe.  In fact, the calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sugar counts included, as usual, with the recipe are probably overstated by quite a bit, since everything in the bag – rendered fat and the coffee-peach reduction – is discarded at the end.

If you don’t have a sous vide, try slow roasting the pork belly.  Combine the preserves, coffee, honey, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a pan and heat them just enough to melt preserves, whisking the ingredients together, before seasoning with the red pepper flakes and salt.  Place the pork belly in a gallon-size zip-lock plastic bag and pour the coffee-peach mixture over it.  Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Remove the pork belly from the bag and place it in a small glass baking dish, just large enough to hold it, and pour the marinade over the top.  Roast at 450 F for 30 minutes; reduce the heat to 325 F and continue roasting for 2 1/2 hours, basting the pork belly every 20 minutes or so with the liquid in the dish.  Finish the dish as per the recipe below.

Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly. The sous vide and a reduction made from coffee and peach preserves turns pork belly into a rich, decadent appetizer.

Click the image to enlarge

Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly
Serves: 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pork belly, skin removed
  • 1/3 cup good quality peach preserves
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. hours in advance, fill the sous vide to the fill line with water and set the temperature for 160 F.
  2. Pat the pork belly dry and sprinkle liberally with salt. Slide it into a sous vide bag that’s been sealed on one end and is about twice as long as the cut of meat. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, combine the preserves, coffee, honey, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and, still stirring frequently, simmer until the mixture has reduced and is thick and syrupy. Allow the coffee/peach mixture to cool a bit, then season to taste with the red pepper flakes and salt.
  4. Carefully pour the syrup into the bag with the pork belly and seal – the bag should be long enough and the syrup thick enough that it isn’t sucked out when the bag is sealed (you can use the “gentle” setting if the vacuum sealer has one).
  5. Place the sealed pork belly into the sous vide and cover. Cook for 24 hours.
  6. Remove the sealed bag from the sous vide. Carefully cut open the bag and remove the pork belly, placing it fat-side up on the top of a vented broiler pan – do not pat or wipe off any of the liquid clinging to the meat. Discard the liquid in the bag.
  7. Place the pork belly about 3 inches beneath the broiler of the oven and broil on high for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the top is crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and allow the pork belly to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 346 calories, 30.1g total fat, 40.8mg cholesterol, 31mg sodium, 134.6mg potassium, 13.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 10.8g sugar, 5.4g protein

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs

TGIF.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Personal (read: unbloggable) life keeps rolling on, eating up a lot of my time, but at least I’m not bored.  At any rate, I do have a really tasty recipe for you today.

If you were at all wondering what to do with any leftover ground lamb/liver/bacon from the Lamb Dirty Rice – and there will be – this recipe is it.

Boy, is it…it.

I’ve gotten to the point where, if I want The G Man to eat something he doesn’t like (anything that resembles a vegetable, for example), I hide it in meatloaf or meatballs.  The Young One, too – he absolutely loathes zucchini and summer squash, but he’ll scarf it down if I shred it and stick it in a meatloaf.  This recipe hides nutrient-dense liver – you can’t even tell it’s there, with all the bacon and spices.

These come together really quickly, are ready in less than 20 minutes and simply just delicious.  You can use just about any ground meat/liver from the appropriate animal you like, too (chicken, beef, pork) – the bacon keeps the meatballs moist and you can adjust the spices to suit your personal tastes.

These would be quite good served with the Red Onion Jam I posted earlier this week.

Note:  Make sure your bacon is “clean” and these are Whole30 compliant.  (Oh, look – I still do that.)

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs. Easy and nutritious, your family will never guess what's hiding in these delicious little meatballs.

Click the image to enlarge

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 3 ounces lamb liver, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Form into 16 meatballs of equal size, and place on the slotted top of a broiler pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/red-onion-jam/” target=”_blank”]Red Onion Jam[/url].
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 428 calories, 35.3g total fat, 195.7mg cholesterol, 902.48mg sodium, 346.5mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21g protein

 

Red Onion Jam

Hello, there.  I meant to post more last week but, well, life kind of got in the way.   Darling Daughter, who was supposed to be walking down the aisle this past weekend, instead packed up all her worldly goods and moved to Podunk to start afresh.  (Long story, but it seems that Mr. Fixit’s feet got a little on the chilly side.  That’s okay; he’ll have plenty of time to kick himself with those sized 9 1/2 ice blocks in the future.  The very near future.)  She’s bearing up well, and while she’s sad and hurt, she’s also excited at the opportunities her future now holds.

At any rate, after spending the week dealing with the logistics of getting DD, as well as her stuff, here in very short order, we had a moderately large family gathering on Sunday for Chocolate Bunny Day dinner at our house.  I’m exhausted, but things went quite nicely, and the dinner was delicious.

Our main course was boneless leg of lamb – or, as The G Man called it, Lego Lamb (hey, it got him to eat it) – that I butterflied and stuffed with a mixture of mint, parsley, dried currants, toasted pecans and sourdough bread crumbs.  It was just delicious, but since mint was part of the stuffing, it was served with this incredibly simple but oh-so-delicious condiment.

Nor is this jam good with just lamb (many variations of lamb, as you’ll see with my next recipe), but it would go excellently with beef, pork, or game – in fact, venison will probably be the next protein I make to to serve with it.  It would also be a lovely part of a charcuterie or cheese platter.

While this isn’t hard to make, it does take a little time – about 45 minutes (it’s so worth it, though).  A little goes a long way, however – you’ll start off with at least 6 cups of sliced onion that will cook down to about 2 cups, and a serving is a mere 2 tablespoons.  A wonderfully flavorful – tart, sweet and earthy – 2 tablespoon that will totally rock your taste buds.

Red Onion Jam. This richly-colored, sweet and tangy condiment goes really well with red meats and strong cheeses.

Click the image to enlarge

Red Onion Jam
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 2 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and honey; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and almost all of the liquid has cooked out, another 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the jam to cool to room temperature before serving.
  4. Nutrition Facts
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 96 calories, 5.9g total fat, 15.3mg cholesterol, 3.7mg sodium, 13.1mg potassium, 9.7g
  6. carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 4.9g sugar, <1g protein

Random Tuesday W.T.F.

I am going to dispense with the usual pleasantries that normally accompany Random Tuesday Thoughts and keep this entry brief, for reasons that will become painfully obvious shortly.

~~~~~~

This was our garden Sunday afternoon, when it was sunny, 75 F and very spring-like:

Garden-Left

This our garden this morning, when it’s 33 F and SNOWING:

Garden-Left Snow

Okay, I promise I’m done bitching about the snow during April.  I pinky-promise I won’t do it again this spring – even if we get a blizzard tomorrow.

~~~~~~

Let this serve as a warning to you all:

ridin the rhino

This is what happens when you go to a wine tasting on a Monday night with the crazy people from the Sushi Bar – you end up astride a rubber rhinoceros in downtown Podunk.

(Full credit must be given to my friend, D.G., who is a far better sport than I.)

And on that note, I’m going to go drink more coffee and pretend I’m a human being rather than a hungover pile of sludge.

I’m too old for this shit…

Lamb Dirty Rice

I can’t begin to tell you what compelled me to make dirty rice for Sunday brunch and serve it with Sous Vide pork belly (recipe forthcoming).  In fact, I can’t remember why I thought to make dirty rice in the first place – I’d never cooked it before, and I can’t really remember ever eating it.  Which simply cannot be, but I just don’t remember.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

At any rate, I’m so glad I did – this was simply incredible.  Now that I’ve made it, and know what I’ve been missing, I will make it again.  And again. And again.

It is just THAT good.

Dirty Rice is a classic Cajun dish consisting of rice, the Holy Trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper, bacon and some sort of meat – either ground pork or sausage, and often including chicken livers.  It can be made very spicy, or not spicy at all, whatever suits your palate.

This version isn’t spicy – the inclusion of an entire tablespoon of Cajun seasoning only gives it a bit of a tingle – but it packs a ton of flavor.  What made me decide to deviate from the norm of ground pork and chicken livers was simple convenience – I’m running a bit short on pork (we’ll be sourcing this year’s hog soon), but have 12 full pounds of ground lamb in the freezer.  I also would have had to thaw at least a pound of chicken livers, when I only needed half a cup, minced, but I had the liver from our lamb in there, which only ran about 6 or so ounces.  It seemed like a no-brainer, and you know me – I have no problem shaking things up with a recipe.

The result?  DELICIOUS.  Since I can’t remember eating dirty rice in the past, I can’t tell you how different it might be from a traditional preparation, and while the lamb flavor was noticeable, it was not at all overwhelming.  An impressive and easy dish – and it makes a ton.  Those six servings are quite generous.

Note: The rice preparation is my go-to for rice, and you can make it with just about any amount of rice and with whatever liquid you prefer.  Just keep the proportions to 1 part rice to 2 parts water – follow the directions closely and it will never fail.  Who needs a rice cooker?

Lamb Dirty Rice. The classic and delicious Cajun rice dish with a twist!

Click the image to enlarge

Lamb Dirty Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from[url href=”http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/dirty_rice/” target=”_blank”] Simply Recipes[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup finely diced lamb liver
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice and 3 cups of the chicken broth in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir the rice; cover with a clean dish towel and the lid and let it site for 10 minutes.
  2. Spread the rice out on a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over it. Mix to combine and set aside.
  3. While the rice is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet or pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, including the rice, over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp.
  4. Increase the heat to high and add the ground pork, breaking it up as it begins to brown. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, and continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and beginning to turn golden.
  5. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken stock and the diced lamb liver, stirring up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the Cajun seasoning and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until most of the chicken stock has boiled away.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cooked rice. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 570 calories, 32g total fat, 125.4mg cholesterol, 671mg sodium, 524.2mg potassium, 46.6g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 22g protein