Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Porchetta

Hello again! First off, I would like to thank all the people involved in Cupcake Camp Montreal. It was so much fun and it looks like it was really really successful: 700 cupcake nibblers and $8000 raised for Kids Help Phone. For those of you who don’t already know about it, Cupcake Camp Montreal took place on November 22, 2009 at Bitoque in Montreal. Amateurs (me!) and professionals donated cupcakes en masse. To gain entry to the event there was a suggested donation of $10 that got you 3 cupcakes and a coffee. All proceeds went to the Kids Help Phone. Go to their website and their Flickr album to find out more about the winners of the competitions and the judges (The Youppie cupcake was phenomenal!)
It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday.

This was my cupcake, not too popular I don't think but I tried...

and these are the ones we picked to eat (yum yum yum)

I’ve been wanting to do some sort of ‘mock porchetta’ for a while, however I don’t have a piglet with all of his bones removed (a ‘pig cape’, as I’ve heard it described). But I did have a center rib loin roast. I figured I could make a vague approximation of the porcine treat. When it came to actually assembling it and cooking it, I was woefully short on time so let’s just toss the whole idea of it resembling a porchetta out the window. Basically it was pig, and it was rolled, and that’s where the similarities end. We made the rolled roast with Risotto-style orzo in parmesan broth and caramelized onions, porcini butter sautéed asparagus, and the roasting vegetables.
Recently I was told that my recipes are a little hard to follow since they’re more in story format than in regular recipe format. So I will try to remedy that by listing the ingredients like a real grown-up recipe (Thanks Julie for the constructive suggestions! Always looking to improve. p.s. check out her blog at

1, 2-3 lb Center rib loin roast (Pork)
¼ - ½ cup coarse salt (not fine, the coarser the better, that way it doesn’t dissolve as it draws out the moisture in the meat)

1 bulb fennel (fronds trimmed and base removed 1/3 of bulb is needed for this stage)
1 tbsp capers
¼ cup or 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
1 anchovy (optional)
1 sprig rosemary (1 tbsp fresh or ½ tbsp dry)
4 cloves of garlic
½ tsp ground sage (or 1 tsp fresh chopped sage)
¼ cup white wine (preferably one with a strong flavour)
1 tsp chopped or grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper (not much salt is needed as the meat will be salted)

Additional Materials:
Aluminum foil
Kitchen twine (natural fibers like cotton) 5 -6 lengths pre-cut, you don’t want to be messing around trying to find scissors with your hands covered in pork.

I also used
2 carrots chopped into chunks
2/3 of the fennel bulb sliced to ¼” thickness
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
A light dusting of onion powder, salt, and pepper
3 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)

First I placed the meat in a small tightly fitting dish and covered on all sides with the coarse salt. It only needs to be in the refrigerator for a few hours like this. Overnight will yield a really salty meat. After 2-4 hours remove and rinse thoroughly.

Then take a long chef’s knife or boning knife and start cutting into the side of the meat at about 1 – 1 ½” thickness. Don’t cut all the way through. When you reach 1 – 1 ½” from the edge, open the meat up like a book and cut into the thicker flap so that it is also 1 – 1 ½” thick. Basically we are making a jelly roll out of our meat. I think this site might describe it better, if you don’t understand my horrendous description.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Then, take 1/3 of the fennel bulb, the capers, parsley, sage, rosemary, anchovy and lemon zest and put in a small food processor. Chop or grind until it forms a rough, chunky paste. Then add the white wine and whizz it a little longer. Season if necessary. Make sure you line your working surface with tin foil because it will juice all over the place. And YOU WANT TO SAVE THOSE JUICES! Spread the filling over the inside of the meat and roll up the meat as tight as possible. It will be smaller in width than the original piece of meat. Tie it up tightly with the string and put into roasting pan. The green juices that have spilled into the foil can be poured onto the meat. If you’re using roasting vegetables put them in the pan and dust with salt, pepper, and onion powder then pour some oil (2-3 tbsp canola or veg, not motor oil) over everything.

Place the roasting pan in the oven (450°F) for 20 minutes or until it has browned on top, then turn the heat down to 325°F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for at least 20 -25 minutes. Feel free to shorten cooking times if you have a smaller piece of meat or if it looks like it is cooking more quickly. The last thing we want is sawdust pork. That's the #1 reason why people say that they don't like pork. Don't fear the medium rare pork, changes in swine farming in feeding habits and keeping have made sure that not cooking pork to the point of sawdust is perfectly healthy. (That being said, do NOT take the same attitude for pork sausage as the meat comes from all over the animal and can be subject to some contaminants -- cook sausages well)

Our accompaniments included asparagus sautéed in porcini butter (I bought that, but regular butter works too) and Risotto style orzo with caramelized onions.
For that you will need
½ cup orzo
1 ½ cups chicken stock
Water to add
Olive oil
1 chunk of Parmesan rind that has been cut into smaller chunks. Most places who grate their own Parmesan will sell the rind cheaply you can add it to stocks or sauces to add that cheesy flavour.
2 red onions
Put the chicken stock and parmesan chunks into a saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes to infuse with the cheesy flavour

In separate pan heat olive oil and sautée pasta for about 30 seconds. Add to saucepan and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the orzo begins to be a little dry. You can add some water to prevent it from sticking if the pasta is not full cooked. Once most of the liquid is absorbed remove from heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes. The result will be starchy and gloopy. You can remove the parmesan chunks and discard, or you can chop them really small (they will be a lot softer at this point) and return them to the orzo.

Add to that, thinly sliced onions that have been caramelized in a separate skillet. (Cook over medium low heat until the onions are brown and jammy, you can add a little water now and then to recuperate the browned bits in the pan) Sorry about the picture, apparently it’s not very appetizing, but I didn’t have a chance to re-take the picture. Suffer bitches! : )

So then we cut the pork into ½” slices, after the appropriate rest period.
(about 20 -25 minutes, cover with foil if you're afraid of it going cold or drying out)

And the final product :)

I’m trying to do less meat based things, Kyle and I have resolved to thin down a little bit, so you can look forward to a few more healthful selections. But a person’s got to live a little too…
Thanks guys! And tell your friends (whatever that means)