30 October 2012

Pulled pork fishsticks

Pulled pork fishsticks

We first visited Joe Beef in Montréal a few months ago. It's a fun, meat-centric restaurants, with over-the-top, creative dishes and cocktails. I purchased their book, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts as soon as it was available, and have been salivating over their dish, pulled pork fishsticks, ever since. But I needed a proper occasion to cook this over-the-top dish.

Here's how it works. You make pulled pork. You smoke a pork butt for 8 hours and then pull it. Then you mix it with bbq sauce and dissolved gelatin. You form them into a tray and allow them to gelatinize. Then you cut them into sticks, bread them and deep fry them.

Well, our occasion arrived, in the form of Foodapalooza 2012. I'm going to present a slightly modified version from what I made, as I wasn't thrilled with Joe Beef's bbq sauce, but this is inspired by their recipe, and is guaranteed to delight meatlover's everywhere:
½ of a pulled pork butt
¾ cup pulled pork bbq sauce
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
3 sheets gelatin
salt and pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
2 eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
canola oil for deep frying

Pork butt sauce

Soak the gelatin sheets in icewater while warming the bbq sauce in a small saucepan. When the sauce starts to boil, remove from heat. Squeeze the icewater out of the gelatin, and add the gelatin to the sauce. Stir until the gelatin dissolves.

Pulled pork

Mix the sauce, pulled pork and finely chopped shallots. Mix very well, and check the seasoning. Adjust with salt and pepper. Line a small sheet pan with plastic wrap. Press the meat into the pan, making it about ½" thick all throughout the pan. Push the meat together tightly. Chill overnight.

In the morning, remove the plastic wrap from the pan, and remove the meat from the plastic wrap. Slice into fishstick-sized pieces (I cut these into 21 pieces). Set up a breading station. First bowl has the flour and Old Bay seasoning. Second has the eggs, beaten until foamy. Third has the panko bread crumbs. While you're heating the oil in a pan, bread the sticks. Coat them with flour, then coat them with egg, then coat them with panko bread crumbs.

When the oil hits 350°F, fry the sticks in small batches until the bread crumbs are a nice brown colour. Fish out of the hot oil, and set on paper towels to drain for a few moments. Serve.

Deep-fried, smoky, acidic goodness. This is a decadent little meat-bomb, and it's guaranteed to please.

Pulled pork fishsticks


28 October 2012

Foodapalooza 2012

October has been a rough month, for various reasons. So, when I e-mailed drricky and told him, "I'm feeling bummed out, want to come up and cook?", he was here less than two weeks later. drricky is the kind of friend that I am truly lucky to have. Friday, we spent some time exploring the Italian bounty that the Greater Boston area has to offer, and on Saturday we cooked up a storm, as we have done together in the past.

Twelve dishes, no repeats (nothing we've done together before). We've gotten better at timing the dishes, and giving ourselves enough prep time to throw everything together. We started making sauces on Friday, and started serving around 6 p.m. on Saturday.


Small dishes, small servings, served over 6 hours. More detailed descriptions will follow, over at drricky's blog and here.

We started with pizza scones, hoping that the word pizza would lull the children.

Pizza scone

Next up, bánh xèo, a coconut milk pancake, wrapped around all kinds of crunchy goodness.


An easy-to-prepare course, the ham-tasting: 3 prosciuttos served with drricky's excellent homemade loquat jam. Interesting note, La Quercia's prosciutto Americano was the far-away favourite (and the least expensive).

Prosciuttos with loquat

The following dish was the evening's most fascinating dish (and one of the most successful, in my opinion). Huitlacoche-monkfish chowder. The grey of the huitlacoche is a challenge to make beautiful, but I think that is accomplished here against the bright yellow of the corn (source of the huitlacoche fungus) and the white of the monkfish.

Huitlacoche-monkfish chowder

Next up was the Burmese thoke, a crunchy salad with fried lotus root. Lightened things up before we went heavy again.

Burmese thoak with lotus root

Salted, seared duck breast, served with blueberries we picked in August. Beautiful and delicious on top of home-baked sourdough. I know that several guests are looking forward to drricky's post describing how to make this sauce.

Seared duck with blueberry sauce

Beef oysters (Joe Beef, that is). A mix of soy sauce and salt beans made this a tad too salty for some, may require a bit of refinement for the future.

Baked beef oysters

Another hit of the night, chicken-fried, home-smoked bacon, served with a trio of New England sauces. Blueberry, rhubarb and cranberry sauces, this is another one that I eagerly await the details for.

Chicken-fried bacon with New England sauces

On Friday, I smoked a pork butt, and made pulled pork. We split the pork into the next two dishes. First, bbq pork potstickers, with a mustard-serrano sauce.

Bbq pork potstickers with serrano-mustard sauce

Followed by pulled pork fishsticks (I'll be posting about this soon).

Pulled pork fishsticks

The final two dishes: Scottish sundae, consisting of grilled peaches and jackfruit, served with caramel-oatmeal ice cream and candied oats.

Scottish sundae

And the final dish of the night, chokecherry panna cotta with a nutty cookie.

Chokecherry panna cotta with nutty cookie

A crazy evening, but everyone went to bed with full and happy bellies. An epic evening, I can't wait to do it again.

EDIT: Will continue to update with links for individual dishes.


02 October 2012

Macaroni & cheese

When I left home, I didn't know how to cook. My mom is an excellent cook, and she didn't feel it necessary to teach her kids to cook. But when I left home, she gave me a copy of The Joy of Cooking (the old version, not the re-published travesty). I still love that book. How many cookbooks do you own that describe (with drawings) how to skin and cook a squirrel?

The Joy

The first recipe in that book that I ever cooked by myself comes from page 186, Baked Macaroni. It was a classic when I was a child, and it's a classic for my child. And it's an amazing side dish next to a smoked brisket.

We've modified it over the years, simplifying the seasoning, and dialing up the cheese.
4 cups macaroni
4 cups grated cheese (as many kinds as you have in your fridge, but primarily cheddar)
4 eggs
2 ¾ cup milk
1 ½ tsp salt
Throw the macaroni in boiling water and boil until al dente. Butter a large casserole dish and pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with just enough noodles to make the bottom disappear, then layer on a layer of cheese. I particularly like a mixture of any blue cheese, cheddar and parmesan. Use enough cheese to cover the noodles and make them disappear.

Assembling mac and cheese

Repeat, layer after layer, ending with a layer of cheese.

Assembling mac and cheese

Meanwhile, beat the eggs until foamy. Mix with milk and salt until the salt dissolves. Pour that mix over top of the macaroni. Cover the casserole and place in the hot oven. Bake for 45 minutes, until cheese is melted, and the egg mixture has firmed up a bit (it won't firm entirely until it cools a fair amount).

Assembling mac and cheese

Serve, classically with sausage and a veggie, or southernly next to a brisket.

Macaroni and cheese