Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pork Shoulder Plate.....

This tasty block of pig turned out wonderfully, a little pan sear and baste with brown butter makes it almost sinful. Paired with fennel orange marmalade, chestnut puree and natural jus.

So let me elaborate a little.....this is a long, planned out process. Most of the blogs I read have all had a post or two about the love affair with braising and slow cooking in general, I need my turn. Its weird that I feel like an incredibly impatient person but I find great pleasure in this process, even rushed at times.

Truly...this cooking method is for people who LOVE to cook.

I read Bluechefs post about brining a couple of weeks ago and decided that I had neglected this technique for far to long. We brined the pork shoulders in honey, balsamic, fennel, orange (of course water, sugar, salt, molasses). I can't tell you the specific amounts because honestly I didn't measure them. Maybe its a huge flaw, but I cook from the hip often. What I did measure were times.....36 hours of brining, 6 hours at 275 braising time, and about 24 hours of pressing. The transformation is a beautiful thing, a product that often is ground for sausage or smothered in BBQ sauce now becomes something refined and substantial. Not to take anything away from those applications but thats what creates levels in the hospitality industry.....how well do you utilize the resources you are given?

The picture makes it look a little dry I think but it really is succulent. No knife needed, just a fork and an appetite. I could break this dish down a little more and make a more intriguing plate but at Tomasso's we live off of simplicity. That means we must make sure our technique is sound.

I paired the dish with fennel marmalade, its very simple:
julienne a fennel bulb, saute, deglaze with orange juice, add sugar and reduce.

The chestnuts were roasted in brown butter and then pureed in the vita prep with some cream, a little water, and a sprinkle of xanthan gum. If you are looking to get into hydrocolloids, xanthan should be where you start.

The last thing I will say is that the pressing is a brillant part of this process, proof that chefs are not mindless glorified line cooks. This is what chefs have become, men and women who manipulate ingredients to work how they see fit. I took Brennan's advice and put all of the braised shoulder in a 200 pan with another on top and a sheet pan on top of it. Then I added the weight, two cases of heavy cream(about 50 lbs.). The sheet pan allows even pressing.

This was a rewarding dish........

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  1. You got me on the chestnut puree. I even zoomed in to try and figure it out. Nice plate. I think all my phone does is talk...need to work on tech. savyness.

  2. That looks tight. We did a similar dish in the Georgian Room with lamb shank and used activa, along with the pressing method to make it come together. Right on with the brining. You have to embrase it. Especially with cuts like the shoulder that are more lean. It denatures the protein so that they're less likely to lose moisture.