Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pork! Pork! Pork!

I know large numbers of you are dying to know what that meal was that I posted a picture of yesterday. It was actually a dish I was recipe testing for Stacy from Paleo Parents, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently at a paleo potluck and who has a new cookbook coming out shortly called Beyond Bacon (you can pre-order it on Amazon now).

The recipe called for both lard and pork stock, neither of which I had on hand. I did however have 5 lbs of pork fat from Polyface that had been sitting in my freezer waiting to be made into lard for quite some time so this gave me the perfect excuse! I'd never made lard before, but it's incredibly simple to do using a crockpot.

Before I got that going, I did some prep for my pork stock. Thankfully Lynne (from Ferguson Family Farm) had bones and trotters available so I asked her to add them to my order for the drop on Sunday. I put about 2 1/2 lbs of those bones and 1 trotter on a roasting pan lined with heavy duty foil:

and roasted them at 450 degrees for about 45 minutes, turning them over about 30 minutes through:

By the way, I consulted two of my favorite resources for making stock, Michael Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking and Judy Roger's The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and determined that in this case roasting the bones to get rid of the "gunk" beforehand, rather than having to skim the stock part way through cooking made more sense. The bones then went into my stockpot along with a bay leaf and a few black peppercorns and were covered with water (about 10 cups) and set in the oven, which was preheated to about 250 degrees.

The pork fat then went into the crockpot and because mine tends to run hot, I set it at warm. Once I doublechecked, about an hour in, that the stock was at a good temperature (according to Ruhlman ~180 degrees is the ideal temperature for making stock), I went to bed and let my crockpot and oven do the work for me. In the morning I added some roughly chopped onion, celery, and carrots to the stock and let it simmer for about an hour longer, then I strained it through cheesecloth. The leftover chunks of fat got pulled out of the crockpot (those got frozen in small pieces to be fed to my dogs later) and the lard got strained as well. With minimal work on my part, I now had a nice stockpile of lard and pork stock:

Look at this beautiful white creaminess once the lard was chilled:

At that point, I was ready to start on the Beyond Bacon dish, a pork bucco. While I can't share the recipe with you (you'll have to order the cookbook to get that), I can tell you that the recipe followed a fairly traditional recipe for braising meats, but with the twist of using fresh pork hocks (also known as shanks), a very under-utilized cut of meat. I had planned to serve it alongside cauliflower parsnip puree, but parsnips were nowhere to be found so instead I made a cauliflower celeriac puree. The celeriac got chopped and cooked in boiling salted water while the cauliflower got steamed (I did this in the same pot using my stockpot and steaming basket, brilliant!). While those were draining in a colander, I melted some ghee in the pot and added some crushed garlic. Then the veg got dumped back in with some of the cooking water, salt, and white pepper and I pureed it using my stick blender until smooth. And that was that, pork bucco with cauliflower-celeriac puree:

By the way, I'm testing another recipe from the cookbook, maple pecan lard scones. Stacy made these for the paleo potluck where I met her, but because they weren't Whole 30 compliant I couldn't taste them, which pretty much killed me! So I'm super excited to make them in just a few short days. I am dreaming of having one with my first cup of coffee. I'll be sure to let you know how they are. ;)