Tuesday, October 2

Pork cooked in "Dork"

I cooked up some food this Sunday that was, frankly, outrageous. Also easy. But time-consuming, and definitely, definitely not recommended by the American Heart Association.

I found it while browsing some YouTube'd episodes of Mark Bittman's public TV show "How to Cook Everything," based on his massive cookbook (which, by the way, I would recommend for anyone who wants to learn how to cook).

The recipe is "Grilled Pork Confit":
  • Take a pork shoulder, one of those cuts that is cheap but needs to cook a long time.
  • Brine it in salty, sugary, spicy liquid for a day or two.
  • Confit it, which means to cook it at a very low temperature in fat for a looooong time.
  • Grill it, so that the outsides get ultra crispy and golden.
I did almost everything I could to screw up this recipe and it still came out unbelievably delicious.

After a Jamie Oliver-esque shopping expedition around Brooklyn on my bike, I had my ingredients. The two most important were a beautiful pork shoulder from my favorite butchers, and some duck and pork fat (aka lard) from the farmers market.

As Bittman explains on the video, below, duck fat + pork fat = dork fat. You could cook almost anything in this stuff and it would be delicious.

As a side note, my mom made an apple pie last weekend using duck fat for the crust, and it was light, flaky and delicious, tasting not at all of water fowl. As another side note, this restaurant seems worth a visit.

Back to the pork: So, I screwed up the brine -- 12 hours instead of 48 hours, a cup of cloves instead of 4 cloves (!), and a bunch of cilantro instead of parsley. Know what? I probably could have stuck to salt, pepper and sugar.

You'll see in the video, when they take the pork out of the confit it is effortlessly cut into pretty little slices. Yeah, uh, bullshit. I ended up with about 10 misshapen portions. Because I was afraid they'd fall apart, I seared them on the stove instead of on the grill.

And my brilliant idea for spaetzle, which are little pasta-like dumplings, totally failed. Channeling Dale from Top Chef, I went with Plan B: roasted potatoes, cooked with -- you guessed it -- Dork fat.

In the end, it all came out beautifully. The pork was tender and moist inside a crispy golden crust. Ditto the potatoes. My friend Bernhard from Rome, who was the guest of honor for lunch on his way to a flight out of JFK, along Bill, Victoria, Scott and Kelly all gave it a resounding ovation.

The pork and potatoes had center stage, but the savior of the day? Dork Fat.

Part 1 of the Mark Bittman Video

Part 2

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Did you buy a whole pig and use that handy chart to get the pieces you needed for the recipe?