pork belly porchetta

A quick internet search with the words "porchetta" or "pork belly porchetta" will reveal a whole world of pork aficionados you might not have even known existed. This happened to me a few years ago, when Worth and I were researching all the ways to cook every part of the venerable hog. We have been working on our techniques on porchetta since we found our first recipe, and although we are by no means masters yet, we are always excited to share this delicious and easy way to cook pork belly. It's so easy in fact, that I'll often recite the recipe multiple times during a single farmers market.

Porchetta is a basically a traditional Italian boneless pork roast, often eaten as a sandwich. In Italy, the porchetta is a whole pig deboned and stuffed with sausage and then slow cooked, then sliced and eaten on fresh bread. Or so I've read. What we make is a variation on the Italian theme and can be sliced and eaten on a sandwich, or in our household as a main, along with potatoes and greens.

So, as I said, this is not by any means, a true Italian whole-hog porchetta. This is a variation, which will easily be on the table in just a couple hours (cook time, with little prep time) and is versatile for a dinner main or lunch meat or whatever suits your style.

PORK BELLY PORCHETTA

ingredients:

2-3 pound pork belly

3-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp minced rosemary

Salt -- flaky salt is the best but any high quality salt will do

Pepper, fresh ground

Special equipment: a broiler pan and butcher twin (if you choose to roll/optional)

 

the belly laid flat on the broiler pan

the belly laid flat on the broiler pan

the other ingredients

the other ingredients

IMG_7409.jpg

Preheat your oven to 300

Lay your belly flat on a broiler pan and generously rub the salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary all over -- on both sides. 

With your butcher twine, roll or fold your belly and tie with the twine. The belly can be rolled either way, lengthwise or width-wise or flat. We usually go for the long roll. The belly pictured here is approximately 2 pounds and was rolled longways. Form as tight a roll as possible with the belly and wrap the twine around one end two to three times and tie off. Continue tying off the roll in one to two inch increments, tightening the roll as you go. You can use the continuous tie method by cutting off about two feet of string and hitching from one cinch to the next. You can also individually tie each cinch with a square knot. It may not look even and perfect as you go, but you after its all tied, you can even up the strings and make it look nicer. An extra set of hands is helpful to keep the roll tight and the ties from sliding out -- otherwise use toothpicks to keep the roll from unfurling.

its not beautuiful yet, but it will be!

looks great now!

looks great now!

Once the belly is tied up tightly, liberally salt and pepper the outside and its ready to go into the oven. Cook in the oven at 300 for 2-4 hours depending on the thickness -- a rolled belly will take longer than a flat one. The goal here is to render off some of the excess fat during the slow cook, which keeps the meat moist, and allows the herbs to thoroughly penetrate the meat, then crisp up the outer fat layer just before serving. Getting a crispy, browned exterior is an important step, so for the last 10 minutes or so, turn the heat up to 400 and sizzle. Monitor closely to not let it burn. Serve warm with a side of mashed potatoes and cooked bitter greens. When serving, slice in two-inch cross sections and be sure to look out for the twine and remove it!

YUM!

YUM!

stovetop chopped BBQ from a fresh ham

Our family loves barbeque. For our wedding, we had a whole hog BBQ feast and for New Years Eve this year, we smoked a whole pig as well. But for smaller gatherings pulled pork from a shoulder or ham is just perfect.

For a recent family gathering, we turned a fresh 7 pound ham into mouth-watering chopped pork BBQ by cooking it on the stovetop in a dutch oven and using the juices to make a rich delicious Mexican-inspired chili sauce. The main thing this recipe requires is a little bit of time.

Start with a fresh bone-in ham roast or shoulder roast. If using a ham, look for one with a nice fat cap. Make a dry rub with your favorite spices -- ours generally includes salt, sugar, fresh ground pepper, paprika, cumin, and cayenne powder. For a 7-pound roast, I make approximately 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of dry rub, and be generous with salt and sugar in your rub! Generously rub the outside of your roast with the dry rub -- use your hands and make sure you get it into all the little nooks and cranny's.

Heat a dutch oven large enough to accommodate your roast over medium high heat and add enough lard (what we use) or other high heat oil so that there is a thick layer on the bottom of your pot. Don't be shy with the oil -- you need enough to sear all sides of the roast in. Once the oil is hot, add your roast and sear on all sides til nicely browned -- approximately 3 mintues per side.

Once you've seared all sides, add a generous lashing of vermouth (we tend to use sweet, but will use dry if we're out of sweet, you can also use beer, tequila, or really anything). The vermouth should fill the bottom of the pot about 1/2 inch high. Turn down the heat, add water to about about 3/4 inch high. Put the lid on the dutch oven and turn down as far as you can to simmer. After about an hour, you should check the simmer and adjust the heat as necessary -- you want this to keep a slow, low braise/simmer -- and flip the roast over in the pan. Check back in another hour, depending on your roast size it will take between 1 and 4 hours to cook fully. You'll know it's done when the meat starts to pull away from the bone and the internal temperature reads 140-145 (it will continue to rise to 145 once you take it out of the pot).

Once the pork is cooked, take the roast out of the pan and let cool on a cutting board. At this point you can decide if you want to dress the pork in the cooking liquid alone or make a chili sauce. We love the chili sauce and it makes great pork tacos.

For the Chili Sauce:

a collection of dry peppers to suit your taste for example:

-2 ancho chilis

-2 mora chilis

-2 guajillo chilis

-1 onion, skin removed, cut into to quarters

-3 -5 cloves of garlic, whole, skin-on

- a chunk of stale bread or tortillas (or animal crackers, or whatever you have in the pantry)

-the cooking liquid from the pork

-oil (we use olive oil)

To make the Chili Sauce:

Rehydrate the chilis by heating them in a dry skillet over medium high heat, turning so that all sides get warmed pliable. Then add them to the pot with the hot cooking liquid from the pork, removing any stems that are still attached. The cooking liquid must be hot or the chilis will not rehydrate. Let the chilis sit the in the cooking liquid for atleast five minutes. Meanwhile, "dry fry" the onion and garlic in the skillet. You are blackening the onion and roasting the garlic -- so turn them so all sides have some heat exposure. Remove the onion and garlic from the skillet and turn the heat down to low. Add oil and the bread (or tortillas or animal crackers or whatever you are using). Fry the bread on both sides and then set the skillet to the side to let it cool. To make the sauce you put all the incredients in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth. I usually add the chilis and some of the cooking liquid first, then the onion and the garlic (don't forget to peel it!) and then the bread and the remaining cooking liquid. Taste for balance -- you may find it needs salt, some vinegar perhaps, or even a bit more spice. You can add more spice by adding in cumin, chili powders, paprika, or whatever you'd like.

After the sauce is made, the pork will be cool enough to handle. Now chop the pork, adding it back into your pot and mix it with your chili sauce. Gently reheat and serve!

We love this for pork tacos - served with warm corn tortillas, pickled red onions, fresh cilantro and sliced radishes. Additionally, this pork is great with a cumin-infused cabbage salad and fresh cornbread.


Asian Fusion Pork Chops

For this Valentine's Day (or any special dinner) try this recipe. Pork chops are the obvious choice, but this will work great with ham steaks as well. We serve over rice and garnish with sliced radish, green onions, cilantro, and lime wedge. Worth and I can easily eat a pork chop each, but if there are other dishes, you could easily have 2 pork chops per 3 people. This recipe requires some advance thought in that the pork is marinated, but once the pork is on the stove it goes pretty quickly. On occasion, we have made this recipe come together in as little as one hours time by putting the marinade together as the chops undergo a quick thaw. While a little extra time is ideal, this recipe never fails to satisfy.

Ingredients:
1 pack PTB bone-in loin chops or 1 pack PTB bone-in ham steaks
1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or lime juice
hot pepper -- we use dried cayenne chili chopped up but any spicy chili will do (adjust to your spice level)
1 inch piece of ginger minced
a couple pieces of star anise (optional)
bay leaf
2 tsp corn starch
1 Tbsp sugar
radishes, green onions, cilantro -- chopped for garnish

Directions:
In advance, thaw the pork. A few hours or the day before you want to eat, marinate the pork. In a pyrex container or glass bowl large enough to hold the pork, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, hot pepper, ginger, star anise, and bay leaf. Stir in the corn starch to dissolve completely. Add pork, flipping over to distribute the marinade, and flip again about half way through the marinating time.
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat and oil an oven-proof skillet large enough to accommodate the pork on medium high heat. Sprinkle each side of the pork with a light coating of sugar and then sear in the skillet. If using ham steaks, the edges may curl a bit, but don't worry. Sear each side to nicely browned and caramelized, approximately 3 minutes. Slide the skillet into the oven and cook until an internal meat thermometer reads 145 (approximately 5-8 minutes depending on thickness). Take the pork out of the skillet and let rest on a cutting board. Add the marinade to the skillet over medium heat while stirring continuously until it has reached a thick, syrupy consistency. Serve the pork over rice, add the soy sauce "gravy" and finish with garnishes of cilantro, radish, green onions, and/or lime wedge. Eat immediately. Additionally, you may slice the pork into thick slabs approximately 1/2 thick and serve over rice for an alternate presentation (recommended for ham steaks)

ptb farmhouse chili

Warm your winter blues away with a quick and easy farmhouse chili!

PTB Quick and Easy Farmhouse Chili

ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork or ground pork sausage
1/2 can (28oz) whole tomatoes
1 can beans / 1 cup dry beans, cooked (we recommend black beans, kidney beans, and/or pinto beans)
dry spice mix:
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp chili ancho ground
2 Tbsp coffee, ground
1 tsp cayenne chili, ground
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste

-in large pan, over medium heat, add enough fat to generously coat the bottom of the pan -- we use lard, but butter or olive oil will do nicely.
-add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until soft ~ 3 minutes
-add garlic and stir
-add meat, and cook until nicely browned, stirring often ~10 minutes
-add dry spice mix, stir to incorporate throughout. we adjust the spice mix to what we have available and will use more cayenne and cumin for a spicier chili. add more coffee and anchos for a deeper, richer chili. remember if you are grinding your own spices to grind as finely as possible -- especially with the coffee and cayenne. We will also incorporate other chilis from our stash of dried chilis in inventory -- like chili morita chipotles, pasillas, and guajillos -- if we happen to have them in stock. be creative and have fun!
-add in the 1/2 can of tomato and its juices. simmer for about 20 minutes. stirring often to break up any tomato chunks
-add beans, and continue to simmer or about another 20 minutes. the idea is to let all the flavors meld and mellow and develop. if you have longer, turn it down lower and let it simmer longer.
-taste for seasoning - add salt and good strong lashing of fresh ground pepper.
-taste again for seasoning, balance with apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, or more spice as needed

Serve hot with cornbread and top with fresh green onions, fresh lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, and/or any other fixings.

ptb spring stirfry

ingredients:

1 pound sausage, thawed

3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 (or 2!) bok choi, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 hot cayenne, dry and chopped or chili flakes(optional)

1 bunch radishes, sliced

1 chunk fresh ginger, minced

sesame oil

soy sauce

sugar

rice vinegar

cilantro, lime, and/or green onion tops for garnish

cook time is about 20 minutes -- add about 10 minutes for prep time

Start by warming up a large skillet, coating the bottom with sesame oil (1-2 Tbs) over medium heat. Add the chopped green onions, reserving the majority of the tops for a garnish at the end, cook for about a minute then add ginger and hot pepper (if you are going the spicy route), let the aromas release and the spices begin to sizzle. Then add the mushrooms, let soften for about 2 minutes. Add sausage, cook until browned stirring often. Add in a Tbsp (or two) of soy sauce and 1 tsp sugar mid-way through browning. Then add the radishes (use the tops too!), stir, add the bok choi, stir to incorporate and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Turn down the heat, and add a dash of sugar, and a dash of rice vinegar or lime, stir. Taste -- add more soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar or sugar if necessary to balance the flavors as you like. Sriracha would also be a good addition at this point. Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro, lime and/or the remaining green onion tops.

green layered lunch

in this recipe we layer sauteed kale over quinoa and cilantro scape pesto. The varied colors of green please the eye and the garlicy, richness of the meal provides us farmers with the zeal to get through the rest of a late spring workday. This lunch can be whipped up in as much time as it takes to make the quinoa, although if you already have the pesto or the quinoa made, it will be an even faster lunch break.

cilantro/scape pesto

2 bunches cilantro

1 bunch garlic scapes (remove the tops)

⅓ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

In a food processor blend the garlic scapes with salt, then add pumpkin or sunflower seeds, adding a bit of olive oil to create a nice, but coarse consistency. Then add the two bunches of cilantro, coarsely chopped, and blend until you reach the consistency you like, adding olive oil if so desired. Taste for salt and set aside.

quinoa

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

Toast the quinoa in the bottom of the dry pot until the grain begins to release a nutty aroma -- a few minutes. Add water, bring to boil, then cover and turn down to low for 15 minutes with lid on. Turn heat off and let sit for about 5 more minutes.

sauteed kale

3 bunches of green onions

1 bunch kale

splash of balsamic vinegar

salt

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the skillet. Chop the green onions, reserving the majority of the greens for a garnish at the end. Cook the chopped onions (mostly white parts)  on medium heat, stirring frequently until very soft and starting to brown. Add the chopped kale, add a couple tablespoons of water and a splash of vinegar, stir and let cook for a couple minutes. Add a dash of salt and taste for balance -- add more vinegar, water, or salt if needed.

Now its time to put the layers of green together. Serve the sauteed greens generously in the middle of the plate, layer a serving of quinoa, then sprinkle some parmesan cheese,then top with a dollop of the cilantro pesto and finally the chopped green onion tops.

2 generous servings, total time approx 30 min

summer bolognese

ptb summer bolognese

1 pound ground lamb or pork, thawed

2-3 pounds of juicy ripe tomatoes, rough chopped

2 kohlrabi, peeled and chopped

1 medium summer squash, chopped

1 medium onion, sliced

¼ cup half and half or milk

½ cup dry wine

salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes (optional)

2+ tablespoons butter and/or olive oil

 

In a large, heavy pan (I use our big dutch oven) heat the butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion and stir cooking a few minutes as it releases its aroma and turns translucent. Add chili flakes if you are using them, then the kohlrabi and stir, cooking for another minute. Then add the summer squash and stir, cooking now for another couple minutes. As the summer squash and kohlrabi soften, add the ground lamb or pork. Stir often and cook until the meat is mostly browned, season with a bit of salt and pepper. Then add the milk or half and half (I use the half and half for lamb which adds a bit more richness, the pork doesn’t require it). Stir and let simmer, once most of the liquid has cooked off, add the wine (I use whatever I’m sipping on while I’m cooking, something dry and either red or while -- your preference). Stir and let simmer, once most of the liquid has simmered off, add your tomatoes. Stir in the tomatoes and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Once the tomatoes are no longer recognizable as chopped tomatoes, taste the sauce for salt and season. Salt, pepper, and possibly a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar will help balance the flavors here. The vegetables should be soft and the soft rich and sultry. Cook one pound pasta and mix together. Top with chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese, if you desire.

Serves 4 and total time is approximately 45 minutes.