Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not Your Everyday Bacon and Eggs

I should have been working more today than I did. The thing is, I was struck with inspiration and it wasn't work related. Over the last couple of days, I have seen an amazing style of ravioli and an even more inspiring photo of roasted pork belly. The ravioli was on Michael Ruhlman's blog at .

Two seemingly unrelated coincedences. In my twisted mind I immediately put the two together. Just like those Reese's commercials from back in the day. "You got your peanut butter in my chocolate".

Well this isn't peanut butter and chocolate. This is something far more serious. I will start with the "Bacon". While not really bacon, it is the very same cut of pork. Mr. Prime Beef once again came through for this cook. They had 1-1.75 lb pieces of pork belly in the freezer. I took a 1.5 lb piece and brought it home to thaw.

So to start on this puppy, I got going on the spices. This is coriander, anise seed, 4 peppercorn blend, and course sea salt.

These were coursely ground in the coffee grinder. I generously applied them to both sides of the pork belly. On the skin side I scored the skin so as to help in rendering. Next time I will use a carpet knife with a short setting so as to not score so deep.
This goes on the grill. I started with the skin side down over high heat to start the crisping.

I also decided on a little bit of smoke flavor. These were cherry wood chips. After just a few minutes, I flipped over and took off of the direct heat. I put the pork belly on indirect heat to slowly roast on the grill.

We are off to a great start. Now just leave this on indirect heat and forget about it for at least 2 hours.

I took a break and opened some wine. Because this meal was going to be so rich, I went with my new favorite white.

This wine just seems to fit this 2 day long "Dog Days of Summer" that we are having in Anchorage. I think it reached 68 F today. It was the best day all summer. (Is that sad?)

Now on to the egg portion of this meal. Just make a small batch of pasta. I used one cup of AP flour and one whole egg and one egg yolk.

If you haven't made fresh pasta already, just go look at Mario Batali's recipes on I mixed this up. Then kneeded for only about 2 minutes. I have recently read about no kneed bread and no kneed pasta. So to try out the philosophy, I only kneeded for a couple of minutes. Then allowed the dough to rest wrapped saran wrap at room temp. Roll it out in a pasta roller all the way to it's highest setting. Mine ended up like this.

These sheets were allowed to set while I worked on the filling. Sautee some fresh baby spinach in olive oil. When it is finished, chop it up fine. Add the spinach to a mix of whole milk ricotta, one egg, grated parmesan, chopped fresh tarragon, oregano, and thyme. This was seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix thoroughly.

To this mix I added just a bit of finely chopped Ruby Red Grapefruit zest.

Now lay out your sheets. Add a teaspoon full of your filling mix and make a well in the center. Just like when you are making pasta.

Now carefully place an egg yolk into the well. Have extra eggs. I bought a whole dozen just for this process. I ended up breaking a few just while separating the yolks. This never happens any other time. Go figure. They should look like this.

Top the ones you have done correctly with just a tiny bit of the ricotta mix. This will help protect the yolk while in the boiling water.

Brush the pasta with an eggwash. Damn this recipe uses a whole lot of eggs. Now top with another sheet of pasta and squeeze out all of the air. I used a pint beer glass to seal up the two sheets. It took a little work to gather up the filling into a tight enough package to seal with the glass.

Trim off any excess pasta and set aside. When your pork belly is done, pull off the grill and allow to rest.

Gently place your egg yolk ravioli into generously salted, gently boiling water.

This will take only 2 minutes to cook. While it was in, I melted some butter in a hot pan. When it just barely started to turn brown, I sqeezed in some Ruby Red grapefruit juice.

Shake this around in the pan just until it emulsifies. It won't take much effort. Just a little motion. Pull out the ravioli, slice the rested pork belly, top with some finely grated parmesan, chopped tarragon, and finally with the grapefruit brown butter sauce.

I think that I am on to something here. Let's just see how the egg yolk filling turned out.

Oh my God! Perfecto.

The flavor of these two dishes are amazing all by themselves. Together, with this super easy sauce, they make something almost beyond description.

I will try. The yolk once cracked, floods the dish. It gives a richness like yolks always do. The skin of the pork belly is oh so crunchy and crispy. It tastes like pork rinds but oh so much more intense. The meat/fat layers of the pork belly are just ever so tender. They almost melt like a confit of duck but just a little firmer. Finally the simple and quite sparing addition of the grapefruit to the butter gives a refreshiningly sweet/tart bite to this very rich meal.
Definitely not your everyday bacon and eggs.

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