Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Beef Marrow Bones

Beef Marrow Bones 1

Marrow, the rich, fatty substance in the center of certain animal bones, has long been used as a food by humans. It is very nutritious, and thus has been used for eminently practical reasons, but it has also, at various times, and in various cuisines, been regarded as something of a delicacy.

Chiefly, one finds bones being used in the preparation of hearty stocks, and occasionally  extracted and eaten as sort of a ‘side benefit’ in certain dishes, but, for a long time, the idea of marrow being a treat in and of itself has been a bit dormant in the west. This, however, has been changing in recent years, and the appetizer of roast marrow bones you see posted above, and for which a recipe will follow, is a common representation of the trend … Continue reading “Foodstuff: Beef Marrow Bones”

Posted in Recipes

Mint Marinated Roast Lamb

Mint Marinated Lamb Roast 1

I bought a bunch of mint for a vegetable recipe I was planning but I had quite a bit left over and I decided to cook up a small cut of lamb I had languishing in my freezer. Long term readers may recall that, way back in the mists of time, I posted a recipe for the Mint Sauce that I almost always serve alongside roast lamb. I mentioned, in that post, that I also use the sauce as a marinade occasionally, and that is what I will be doing here. Actually, I really hadn’t planned to do a post about this particular meal but the cut of lamb I bought was a little unusual and I thought I would show you what I did… Continue reading “Mint Marinated Roast Lamb”

Posted in Recipes

Simple Roast Cauliflower

Simple Roast Cauliflower 1

Cauliflower is not a widely appreciated vegetable. This is perhaps understandable given that many people’s experience of it is the boiled article, whose bland taste is faintly reminiscent of old cabbage water and not much improved even with lashings of cheese sauce.  Steaming is only marginally better, in that some of the original fresh taste is not leached away as it is with boiling, but it still does not curry much favor with a lot of diners, particularly children.

Roasting, on the other hand, produces a cauliflower treat that even confirmed haters can warm to… The subtle notes of the fresh vegetable are enhanced, instead of diminished, and the process gives a rich, in some ways ‘nutty’ depth to the vegetable. Mostly, I have usually only included cauliflower as just one item in a mélange of roast veggies, but I recently put together the following preparation as a ‘cauliflower-only’ side-dish for a steak dinner… Continue reading “Simple Roast Cauliflower”

Posted in Recipes

Bok Choy with Roast Pork and Straw Mushroom

Bok Choy with Pork and  Mushroom 1

This dish is definitely Chinese in Spirit, although the use of a western white wine in the sauce is a bit of a departure from the traditional. I came up with this as a way to use some leftover meat from my Crispy Roast Pork Hock experiment earlier this week. You could use any leftover pork you like but, ideally, you want some with a bit of crunchy rind still attached…  Continue reading “Bok Choy with Roast Pork and Straw Mushroom”

Posted in Recipes

Crispy Roast Pork Hock

Crispy Roast Prk Hock 1

Today’s post is really just a culinary experiment of sorts…  A few years back, I tried using pork hocks to see if I could produce the same sort of crackling, or crispy skin, that I really enjoy on a nice, good quality pork roast. The reason I tried pork hocks was because then, as now, they are the only cut that come with the skin attached on any regular basis up here in the far north. Unfortunately, the results were not that great.

Since that time, however, the techniques I featured in my posts on Perfect Roast Pork Crackling and Roast Pork with Crackling II proved very successful and so I thought I would try the hocks again. For this experiment, I am going to use the Asian method I discussed in the second post. I won’t repeat the instructions in their entirety (as you can read them in the original post) but if you read on, I will show you the way I adapted the approach to this somewhat different cut…  Continue reading “Crispy Roast Pork Hock”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Roast Pork with Crackling II

Crackling Pork II 01

When I posted my Spicy Crackling Pork Appetizer recipe not long ago,  a fellow blogger followed up with comments which linked me to one of her own posts entitled: Roast Pork: Two Homemade Recipes. This very interesting article provided two different, but somewhat similar methods for achieving the lovely puffed, crispy skin on roast pork that I have always known as ‘crackling’. I was also interested to see that both methods incorporated an Asian technique for adding flavor to the meat as well.

Anyway, I was quite intrigued and, when I came across a pork roast with a good thick skin, I decided to take a look at the techniques. Although I began the process with some steps I outlined in my basic method for making crackling outlined in my earlier Roast Pork with Crackling post, I then followed up with something of an amalgam of the two processes outlined in my friend’s post…  Continue reading “Roast Pork with Crackling II”

Posted in Experiments

Roast Radishes

Roast Radish 01

This isn’t much of a post today… just a little note about something I tried recently.

I have posted about Roast Vegetables before and, indeed, I love all sorts of produce done this way as it develops flavors that just don’t come out with other cooking methods. The other day, I wanted to roast potatoes and a few other things to go with steak and did a search of the fridge to see what I could add. I would have like to include some carrots but my wife is really not a fan and so I hit on the idea of throwing in a few red radishes to the blend. Basically, on the assumption that radishes would take the same roasting time as potatoes, carrots or other root vegetables, I just tossed them in the same herbed and seasoned oil as my potatoes, and popped them into a 400 degree oven (the orange bell pepper you can see in the mix was added a bit later).

Now I should point out here that, after trying it, I ‘googled’ the idea and discovered I wasn’t the first to come up with the idea by any means. Still, I thought that it might turn out nicely and it definitely was a treat. The normal sharpness of fresh radishes mellows into a real sweetness and adds a component to the typical roast vegetable dish that is unique. If you would like to try this yourself, I recommend using fresh rosemary sprigs in the mix as I did. Enjoy…

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Spicy Crackling Pork Appetizer

Steamed Pork Appetizer 1

Today’s post is not really a recipe, as such. Rather, I just thought I’d show you a little experiment I conducted with some of the leftover Roast Pork with Crackling I featured recently. Rather than scarf down all the crackling in one sitting, my wife and I exercised considerable restraint and I managed to save a strip along with about two inches or so of the fat and meat underneath. I had in mind a little appetizer idea and wanted to see how it would turn out.

Basically, I made a sauce by pureeing a tomato and some red bell pepper along with Sichuan Chili Bean Paste, sugar, and vinegar. After reducing and cooling the sauce, I marinated the chunk of pork in the sauce for about an hour and then I made a bed of celery sticks (which were first quickly flash-fried) and placed the pork on top. I steamed it, with the sauce poured over, for about ten minutes and served it right away.

Basically, this method is sort of a cockeyed reversal of the Chinese dish Hui Guo Rou (回鍋肉), also known as ‘twice-cooked pork’, in which a chunk of pork with the rind attached is moist-cooked by simmering, and then fried, with sauce later added, so that the pork becomes crisp. Here, I started with crisp pork and then moist-cooked it with steam.

Anyway, I was curious to see if the very crunchy crackling on top of the meat would remain crispy after steaming. As it turned out, it doesn’t but the new texture that resulted is almost as delectable. The meat was nicely tender, while the fat gave a lovely, unctuous contrast to the slight chewiness of the skin. The sauce also worked even better than I hoped (it is something I am working on for another dish) and, in all, I have to declare this little experiment a success…


Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Perfect Roast Pork Crackling

Crackling Pork 1

When I was a kid, both of my parents had the unerring ability to produce perfect crackling on a roast of pork. It was delightfully crunchy and crisp on the surface, with a terrifically toothsome chewiness beneath, and the soft, unctuous layer of fat underlying it all was incredibly sweet and salty at the same time.

Sadly, the ability does not appear to get passed down genetically for I have tried for years to produce the same results with only poor to middling success. I have, I must confess, only, been able, thus far, to achieve the right degree of crispiness in a small portion of the skin, while leaving the rest either burned, or else woefully flabby and underdone. The failure has been a sticking point with me since my earliest attempts in the kitchen.

The other day, I picked up a lovely roast complete with rind (something that only rarely appears in these parts) and I decided that it was time to solve this problem for good. After many hours of searching through dozens upon dozens of recipes on the subject (no two of which seemed to be alike) I managed to synthesize a procedure from all that information that finally seemed to work. I was so amazed, not to mention thrilled with the result that I had to share it with you here… Continue reading “Perfect Roast Pork Crackling”

Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Easter Lamb with Gremolata

Lamb Gremolata 1

For our recent Easter feast, I vacillated between duck, goose or leg of lamb, but the realities of northern living settled the issue for me as I could find none of the above and had to settle for a lamb shoulder instead. Thus far, I have only bought the shoulder so as to cut it up for use in curries or Chinese dishes involving bite size pieces, and I have to confess to never having cooked one whole. When I was bemoaning the fact that I could find neither lamb leg or even chops for our Easter meal, Stefan over at Stefan’s Gourmet Blog suggested that I do the shoulder sous-vide or braise it, but since the former is technically beyond my equipment-wise, and since my wife prefers roast lamb, I decided to go ahead and do it in the oven using a herb-spice combination known as a Gremolata.

A Gremolata is similar to another well-known preparation known as a Persillade, which, in its simplest form is just parsley minced with garlic. The essential difference between the two is that a Gremolata includes lemon zest but, like the persillade, there are many variations on the basic theme. Some versions include sage, thyme, rosemary or mint, and in Milan, I gather, anchovy paste is sometimes used. Oil, chiefly olive oil, may also be added depending on the intended use for the finished preparation. For today’s dish, I am keeping my Gremolata fairly simple… Continue reading “Easter Lamb with Gremolata”