Yes, I realize that this post is about Thanksgiving and it's the week before Christmas. That's what procrastinating is all about, people. Geez. There was a whole long post in my head about how I decided not to make a turkey for Thanksgiving. It was moving and poignant and touched on politics and the oppression of native cultures. But I've slept (a lot) since then, and drunk (a lot) since then, so here's the short version: Fuck turkey! It's all pig this year!
That's right, it's porchetta time. For those of you who don't receive two different food magazines, read various food writers and watch a lot of cooking network; a porchetta is a pork belly (that's bacon, people) wrapped around a pork tenderloin and roasted until it's crispy, delicious, and I'm pretty sure a sin against god and nature. It's a pig stuffed in a pig. At least it's all one animal. Not like those turduckens. That's just some crazy Dr. Moreau shit...
You maybe wondering about the advisability of making a complicated, involved, never-before-attempted dish on an occasion such as Thanksgiving. An occasion already rife with chances of failure. Well, let's just say I love a challenge. Or I'm crazy. Maybe a little from column A, a little from column B...
The porchetta requires assembly 24-48 hours before cooking, so Tuesday evening I began. After banishing all husbands and animals to the basement with orders to, "Leave me and the pork the hell alone already!", I carefully assembled my tools and ingredients.
(magazine with what the porchetta is SUPPOSED to look like)
My first step was to lay out the pork belly and stab it all over. Then pound it with a meat mallet. That's right, I said pound that meat. God, you people are immature. After furiously stabbing this giant slab of protein, possibly yelling "Die heathen pork!", I flipped it over to give it a good pounding. Really? Again with the immature... That's when I noticed it.
(I should first clarify that porchetta calls for skin-on pork belly. The skin gets all crackly and brown, making the whole thing look like some porky gift from heaven.)
There is was...staring at me. Just, right there hanging out. It was...a nipple.
That's right. There was a goddamned nipple on my goddamned pork belly. So obviously, I took a picture of it...
I think it's winking at me.
Really, this isn't rocket science. This is the belly portion of a mammal. Mammals have nipples. Pigs are animals. This is not some crazy revelation. (It's like it's staring at you, isn't it?) But still, you don't really expect a nipple to show up in your food. As soon as I saw it I jumped back with a loud "Holy shit!" There might have also been a dance. You know the one, the hopping from one foot to the other, hands waving, shouting EWWWWWW! (It's like you can't look away, right?) This was a roadblock in my quest for culinary glory. The nipple clearly, could not remain. I tried to cut it off myself, but one touch and Hey! there's that dance again. So I did what any self-respecting, strong, feminist woman would do. I called for Chris...
Me: Hey honey? I need you to de-nipple my pork belly.
Me: There's a nipple on my pork belly and I need you to come take care of it. It's freaking me out.
Chris: Of course you do....
And he did.
Crisis averted, I resumed creating my masterpiece. Next, I laid out my newly nipple-free pork belly and salted, peppered and spiced. Then, I laid out my pork tenderloin and covered it with thinly sliced oranges. The result was this...
I know, right?
Now I had to tie the motherfucker. Having never actually bothered tying roasts or chickens, I was somewhat at a loss. Sure, I could take the easy way out and tie loops around the roast, each loop separate from the other. But no! I was on a cooking high! This porchetta deserved better than that. This deserved professional tying, just like the pros do it. So now, how do I do that? This is where we all say a big thankbabyjesus for YouTube. After watching a very instructional video on how to tie a roast a couple of times through, I was ready. Or so I thought. After two tries and some VERY colorful language. I realized I needed to watch and tie at the same time. So there I was, laptop on my counter, trying to tie a roast that was the size and weight of a baby all while trying not to get meat juice on my computer. At one point while trying to wrestle it into submission, I'm pretty sure I had it in what amounted to a headlock. If you've never had pork in your armpit...But there! It was tied! Wrangled into a uniform shape and tied with overlapping loops that all connected! I think I may have done the Rocky victory dance and sung Eye of the Tiger a little. And this is what it looked like...
Porchetta, you are my bitch.
When Thanksgiving day arrived I hauled the ten pound monstrosity out of the fridge for a rest at room temperature. Then into the oven it went. After two hours the house smelled like crispy pork skin. Meaty, juicy, melting fat pork. MMMMMMM.....poooorrrkkk....(Homer Simpson drool face).....
After another hour, we were waiting at the oven door for it to be done. Even after appetizers and two bottles of wine, no one could wait for dinner to REALLY begin. And here. Was. The. Result.
Damn, I'm good.
And it was delicious. The oranges gave it a hint of sweetness and citrus. The chili flake was a pleasant heat in the back of your throat. And over all of it, the richness of the pork. Freaking delicious.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Perhaps a Christmas blog post will be in order somewhere around Valentine's Day.....
Monday, July 18, 2011
The story of how we moved to Portland is one fraught with danger, madness and true love. Also, possibly alcohol. All I knew is that we had to get the hell out of Texas. Sorry Austin, you're great and all, but I'm not living in the middle of a sauna. So we had to choose. Go east to NYC or Boston? Too expensive. Go west to San Francisco? Also too expensive. Middle America was a big HELL NO. Florida was out as being, well, Florida. So that pretty much just left the Pacific Northwest. We picked Portland because it seemed a little quirkier than Seattle. Really, it was process of elimination. And I say we chose...wisely.
Things I Love About Portland:
1. The food. It's not for nothing that Portland is a food city to rival NYC. The sheer amount of crazy rockstar chefs and foodies in this town is mind-blowing.
Russell St. BBQ
Not to mention the foodcartapalooza that has taken over the city...
|Fried pie at 2am? Yes please!|
|I can't see my house from here...|
3. Things like this...
|Just another day downtown...|
|The sweetest thing ever.|
|Another reason to love PDX!|
Now stop fucking RAINING!!!!