Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Potato (Yam) hash

I admit that for a long time I had a fear of sweet potatoes.  I had tasted them as that sickly sweet mushy pie and my mother had taken them directly from a can, glazed them with additional sugar product and added marshmallows. Even the idea of a sweet potato fry filled with with dread.

Since they are a nutritional powerhouse I finally got over my fear and am so glad I did. All weekend and today I did this dish at Farm Market Demos and gave a real boost to the farms selling the ingredients. I also did it for a dinner this past Tuesday, it was a multi course tasting menu and the plate with the sweet potato has came back clean from all 4 diners. This dish can be a hit as a side dish with fish, and just as easily a breakfast or brunch dish.

2 nice sized sweet potatoes peeled (any type from yellow to the pictured purple)
1 small appled (russet is nice, but any type will do)
1 large onion finely chopped or 3 leeks

Olive Oil
A good dousing of black pepper

Get out your cheese grater and shred the sweet potatoes and apple. Dump them in a pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Saute at medium heat for about 10 minutes and throw in the onions. When it all begins to brown give it some salt and several grinds of black pepper, don't be shy, sweet potatoes love black pepper. Let it develop a little more crunch and color and serve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pork Belly Dinner Party

One pound of meat. 4 people and a dinner party. If you don't mind making an effort you can make a party that will wow your guests and put you in league with the finest restaurant chefs.

Pork belly is often seen at Asian restaurants and more recently in fine dining. It is adaptable to many low, slow cooking methods and the results are typically succulent and crowd pleasing. One simple pound of belly will more than easily feed 4 people who will revel is it's succulent richness.

You will need to make a visit to your local cheeseshop to get parmesean rinds, or if you buy your cheese with the rind on, make a collection in the freezer until you have about 8 ounces worth of rinds. Some stores will collect them for you if you ask and the price is little. 

1 lb of pork belly, skin on cut into small cubes.
8 oz parmesean rinds
20 cloves of garlic pureed
Kosher Salt

Day 1: Cut your belly into small cubes, bit sized and rub them with garlic and salt, place in a bowl covered and refrigerate.

Simmer your rinds in a gallon of water with a few cloves of garlic and onion chunks, when the broth is reduced by half throw in the pork belly and turn to a simmer, add more water as needed and slowly simmer for two hours.

Remove pork belly with a slotted spoon, cover and refrigerate.

Strain the solids out of your broth and refrigerate overnight.

Soak 1/2 lb of white beans in water overnight. 

Day 2:

1/2 lb of white beans (soaked)
2 cups cherry tomatoes split
2 leeks
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove your broth from the refrigerator and carefully remove all the wonderful solid fat from the top. SAVE IT! We will be using later.

Add your beans to the cheese stock and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, after an hour add in the leeks and cherry tomatoes. Add more water as needed adjust seasonings. When beans are tender soup is done and you are ready to serve. Keep warm until serving.

Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Sage
4 medium potatoes sliced in chunks.

To complete your dinner party make some salads and vegetable antipasto and begin your meal with vegetables.  Then serve your soup which will have the entire house filled with a wonderful smell.

To finish the belly put in a skillet on warm and slowly render more fat and bring to brown. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and fresh Sage leaves.

At the same time brown your potatoes in the reserved fat when they are tender and crisp you can serve the potato with the belly and your guests will rave. These dishes are a guaranteed dinner party success.

The best part...pork belly, potatoes and beans cost so little that you can splurge on the wine. Chianti Classico would be a nice choice.