Friday, August 21, 2009

Wednesday Night Test Kitchen - 8/19/09

So I know I’ve been bad about posting some of this stuff, but my test kitchen stuff has been relatively disjointed due to just testing of partial recipe ideas and techniques.  This week seemed to work out pretty well as I got hold of a nice chunk of pork belly and decided to cure and smoke it into bacon.

See the smoking action here:


After a long cure, I did a slow low temp smoke of apple and mesquite chips for hours until the bacon got to an internal temp of approximately 137-140 F it seems.  I let it rest for a bit and then carved out the browner smoked out portions for some necessary tasting.


The bacon was smoky, salty and crispy with the wood flavors that I had complete control over.  If you have a yard or space in the back, you need a smoker just so you can smoke your own goodies.  It’s also important to have a collection of wood/woodchips so you can appropriately give each item the right type of smoke flavor.

With bacon in hand, I did two items for my bacon themed test kitchen.  How can you beat that?


-24 Hour House Bacon Sous Vide, Niabell Grape Gastrique and  Mushroom Medley 

-Roasted Whole Red Banded Rockfish in House Soy Stuffed with Bacon, Ginger, and Green Onion

The 24 Hour Bacon was a big cut that was cooked at approximately 150 F for a full day in the immersion circulator.  The second component of the grape gastrique was a tame carrot madras local honey.  The mushroom medley consisted of lobster, oyster and trumpet mushrooms – all unique textures, but none of them overpowering when compared to the other.  Instead of saute, I may have chosen to put them in the oven first next time.

All in all the plate was what I expected out of it.  The smokiness of the bacon wasn’t particularly overwhelming and actually the long cook process drew up more subtleties with the smoke flavors that I expected.  I thought I could have used a little more grape gastrique, so I drizzled a tiny bit more later on.  I think however that if it went further, it would overwhelm the taste of the mushroom.  The bacon could have used a tiny bit of black pepper, but I’m nitpicking.  Of course, you could cut the meat with a butter knife.  That’s some texture.


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The fish was less of a designed piece.  I pretty much just wanted to eat fish and thought a rockfish would taste good coming out of the oven given that it had such nice and soft flakey white flesh.  Sorry, I didn’t consult my sustainable guide, but I didn’t think small Pacific rockfish would be an issue.  The house soy is actually part chicken stock (oddly w/sage) and part Chinese House rotisserie braising soy stock (brown sugar, star anise, lemongrass, cloves, green onion, garlic, etc).  The bacon, green onion and ginger was stuffed in the fish and also incorporated in with butter to be dressed on the fish prior to roasting.  The soy was placed on the bottom for moisture to start and also basted onto the fish later on.  It also serves as the sauce when you start sectioning and eating the fish. 

I’m beginning to switch to a more anti-fillet philosophy with fish.  The joy, skill, and experience of eating whole fish is much more fun.  And, it tastes better.  Who doesn’t love sucking fish head.  Yum. 


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