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

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sunday morning I got up in the mood to cook.

And cook I did.

I don’t know what possessed me to make stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears to go with our over-easy pastured eggs and chocolate-laced coffee, other than the fact I had mushrooms and asparagus in the fridge (Beloved was bemused, as well – “My wife got up this morning and made appetizers for breakfast!”), but it was all really tasty, if a little odd.

I’m not a huge mushroom fan – they’re one of the few foods I have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about – but I have to say that these were absolutely delicious.  We enjoyed them so much that I am going to make them for our annual employee holiday party this year.  It helps that they’re just drop-dead easy, too, and can be assembled ahead of time and baked later.  They also reheat beautifully.

Note:  The chorizo I use is really a chorizo-spiced ground pork; we get it from our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  A traditional Mexian chorizo is going to be pretty fatty and probably won’t hold together very well as a stuffing.  However, making it yourself is really quite easy – this recipe is a good one.

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms. These tasty morsels can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked just before serving.

Click image to enlarge

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]homemade Mexican-style chorizo[/url]
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound large white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil.
  2. Gently but thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a damp towel. Remove and finely chop the stems; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped mushrooms stems until they have given off all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, about 7 to10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  5. In a large bowl, gently mix the chorizo and mushroom/onion mixture until well combined. Stuff each mushroom cap with the chorizo mixture, mounding it attractively, until all of the sausage has been used.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the mushrooms have softened and the chorizo stuffing is cooked through.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 250 calories, 21g total fat, 49.1mg cholesterol, 563.2mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 12.5g protein

Jalapenos en Escabeche

Oh, look – another ferment.  What can I say?  I’ve come to love them and tend to have one in the fridge at all times.  Right now, I have three:  the small remains of our last batch of sauerkraut, the rapidly diminishing dilly beans, and now this.

The reason I made this is because in the comments of the dilly bean recipe, Lisa – one of the most stylish style bloggers you will ever find, to say nothing of being an incredibly beautiful,  intelligent and gracious woman – said, “The Mexican restaurants around here do a pickled jalapeno carrot that’s INCREDIBLE. Want to backwards engineer a recipe for me?”

Oh, that all requests should be so easy.

Those jalapeno carrots fall into a broad category of pickled vegetables known as escabeche (which literally translates to “pickle”), a common condiment in many Mexican kitchens and restaurants (meat-based escabeche – usually fish, poached or fried, and marinated in an acidic mixture before serving – is popular in many Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Spanish).  Almost all recipes include jalapenos or other hot chilies, carrots, onions and garlic, and many contain other vegetables; cauliflower is the most common.

The vast majority of commercially available escabeche is preserved in vinegar, making it shelf stable.  Not necessarily a bad route to go – I still have many, many jars of cucumber and watermelon pickles safely tucked away in my basement from last year’s canning frenzy.  However, this method cooks the vegetables, leaving them rather limp and, if you wish to make it at home, is a bit of a production.

Lacto-fermentation results in a tangy, fiery escabeche that is fresh, crisp, delicious and easy – not to mention oh, so good for you.

Note:  I did not seed the jalapenos at all; I simply sliced them.  This is quite spicy (10 jalapenos, after all) and will become more so as it continues to ferment.  If you or members of your family have a tender palate, you may want to halve the chilies lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins before adding them to the carrots and onions.  Also, according to most sources I’ve found, this will last many months in cold storage (one account cited it as still being good a year later), but I’d still probably eat this within 3 or 4 months.

Jalapenos en Escabeche. This classic Mexican condiment is naturally fermented and full of probiotic goodness.

Click the image to enlarge

Jalapenos en Escabeche
[i]It’s important that the vegetables be completely submerged beneath the liquid to avoid mold and promote the proliferation of the good bacteria. Pouring olive or coconut oil on top after adding the liquid is helpful, or Pickl-It sells [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]handy glass weights[/url] that fit inside the mouth of the jar. Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
  • 10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the water, in a large bowl and toss to distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pack the vegetables into a clean, wide-mouth quart jar. Add the water until the jar is filled to 1 inch below the rim.
  3. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the liquid in the jar beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 37 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 886.4mg sodium, 258.9mg potassium, 8.6g carbohydrates, 2.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 1g protein

Dilly Beans

Well, hello there.  I mentioned last week that we were flying to Las Vegas to visit Darling Daughter, and that’s exactly where I was between Thursday and yesterday.  It’s kind of hard to get motivated to post recipes and whatnot when you’re in Sin City shopping and watching Cirque du Soliel, so…I didn’t.

(We’re not big gamblers; I think we’ve gambled all of one time – a net loss of $10 on the slot machines – during our first visit many years ago.  Since then, we pretty much avoid casinos unless we’re walking through one to get somewhere else.)

Anyhoo, I’m back now and grateful to be able to sleep in my own bed and cook in my own kitchen.  Like you wouldn’t believe.

Speaking of my own kitchen, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll ferment just about anything.  And if you told me 20 years ago that I’d fall absolutely in love with pickled green beans, I’d probably have laughed in your face.  But oh, my goodness – are they delicious?  They are.  And ridiculously easy to make, too.

I used one of my delightful Pickl-It jars – I really cannot sing their praises enough – but a regular, wide-mouth mason jar will work just fine, and that is what the recipe calls for.  Like all recipes for lacto-fermented foods, it’s extremely simple – combine the ingredients in the jar, and put them in a cool corner of the kitchen, out of direct sunlight, and wait for 3 to 5 days for the magic to happen.  Once the liquid in the jar begins to bubble, stick it in the fridge – the ferment will only get better as it ages.  IF it gets the chance; the day we opened these after the initial ferment, we ate a good quarter of the jar.

They are just that tasty.  Crispy, spicy and tangy, they are a great addition to a meal – you just need a few – or as a snack.

Unlike fruit chutneys, which contain sugar (the naturally occurring sugars in the fruits themselves along with small amounts of added sugars) and need to be eaten fairly quickly, these green beans will last a bit longer in the refrigerator, but I’d still make sure they’re consumed within 3 months.

Like I said, IF they last that long.

Dilly Beans. These crisp, spicy and tangy naturally pickled green beans make a delicious and nutritious snack.

Click the image to enlarge

Dilly Beans
[i]Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1 handful fresh dill sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 2 cups filtered water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the salt in the water to make a brine. Set aside.
  2. Place the garlic, peppercorns, red pepper flakes and half the dill in a clean, wide-mouth quart jar. Fill the jar with the green beans, standing them upright, then add the remaining dill. Add the brine until the jar if filled to 1 inch below the rim of the jar.
  3. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the liquid in the jar beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Eat within 3 months.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 8 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 854mg sodium, 43.1mg potassium, 1.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein.

Eggs with Mustard Sauce

I was soooo frustrated yesterday while making this for lunch.

Farm fresh eggs are extremely hard to peel when hard cooked.  You can prick the ends, add baking soda to the water, peel them under cold running water, whatever it is you do and at least half of them are going to come out a ragged mess.  The trick is to leave them in the fridge for a couple of weeks before cooking them.  So I did; in fact, I left this particular dozen in the fridge for three weeks and half of them were still a ragged mess.

Ah, well.  First world problems, and all that.

Anyhoo, this little recipe is ridiculously easy and surprisingly tasty.  As written, it is a great light lunch with some fresh fruit, which is exactly how I ate it.  May I suggest a perfectly ripe, juicy peach since they’re in season and I have a peck of them on my kitchen table?  Individually, with a tomato wedge, they’d make a marvelous appetizer or picnic fare.

The “sauce” is really just a mustard vinaigrette, but it is absolutely delicious and would make a great dressing for a salad topped with chicken or steak.

Eggs with Mustard Sauce. Tangy and delicious, this makes a great light lunch when paired with fresh fruit.

Click on the photo to enlarge

Eggs with Mustard Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
Instructions
  1. Combine the garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar in a small bowl. Add the oil slowly, whisking it in with a fork until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Arrange the sliced tomato on four plates; place 2 egg halves on each. Top the eggs with the mustard sauce, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 259 calories, 21g total fat, 373mg cholesterol, 232.5mg sodium, 252.6mg potassium, 3.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.4g sugar, 13.3g protein