It was just about the simplest recipe possible for cooking pork belly, but it was at least as delicious as my first turn at this wonderful cut almost a year ago, when I cooked a ‘pork belly porchetta’, using a procedure that was a bit more involved. Knowing that the little roast could be served either warm or at room temperature relieved some of the stress of having to guess the cooking time for a piece that weighed little over a pound, while preparing 2 vegetables with very different requirements.
The vegetables too arrived on the table with very few extras, and little fuss, although both the turnips and the chard had started out pretty well equipped.
The turnip color was spectacular, although much of the red disappeared when they were peeled.
I would normally describe the greens as rainbow chard, but the one bunch left on the table when I arrived at the farm stall didn’t include any true yellow stems, so I’ll call it ‘half-rainbow chard’.
Only the pork was served with a garnish, but the turnips, shown here before they went into the oven, were joined by some very fresh rosemary early on.
- one section of pork belly (1.09 pounds) from Flying Pigs Farm, rinsed in cold water, patted dry, the fat side scored at one-centimeter intervals, and the piece halved to keep it from curling while cooking, the flesh side seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then placed skin side up inside an oval enameled cast iron pot on top of 10 or so fresh small-to-medium-size sage leaves, that surface seasoned with more sea salt, roasted inside a roughly 465º F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the skin was starting to blister and crackle, then enough whole milk added to the pot to come halfway up the side of the meat (this is why it’s best to use a pot little larger than the piece of meat), the heat reduced to 325º and roasted for another hour, possibly less, or until the meat is “meltingly tender”, as the recipe that I used reads, the pork removed from both the oven and the pot (the milk will curdle if the meat is left inside), and either kept warm of allowed to cool (I kept it warm while finishing the vegetables, and garnished it with bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm)
- red turnips from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into half-inch-thick slices, tossed with Portuguese olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a generous amount of very fresh rosemary leaves from Stokes Farm, roasted inside a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan for about 30 minutes at 425º
- one modest-size bunch of ‘half-rainbow chard’ from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a little Portuguese olive oil in which three small Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic cloves had first been heated and slightly softened, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, and finished with a little more olive oil and a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon
- the wine was a German (Rheinhessen) white, Scheurebe Sonnentau Trocken, Gysler 2014, from Astor Wines
- the music was Phil Kline‘s program, ‘Unsilence’, on New Sounds, streaming
It was a pretty familiar Sunday breakfast at home, even if the herbs and seasonings were juggled around this time.
- six short slices of smoked bacon from Flying Pigs Farm, fried very slowly in a very large heavy seasoned cast iron pan
- six beautiful Americauna eggs from Millport Dairy Farm, slowly fried in the fat rendered by the bacon (with the addition of a bit of Portuguese olive oil), with the addition of Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, small dabs of sun-dried chili-pepper harissa from NYShuk Pantry, a bit of chopped green ends of a spring garlic from Windfall Farms, chopped bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm, and scissored-cut chives from Lucky Dog Organic Farm
- four halved Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Chelsea, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, gently heated inside a small tin-lined copper skillet, arranged on the plates next to the eggs, sprinkled with chopped fresh oregano from Stokes Farm and scissored-cut chives from Lucky Dog Organic Farm
- a garnish of micro red amaranth from Windfall Farms
- toasts of a whole wheat sourdough Miche from Bread Alone
- the music was New Sounds, streaming, including works from the Cocteau Twins, George Crumb, John Cage and Pauline Oliveros
I’ve never cooked halibut cheeks before, and I don’t think I had even heard of sacchetti, or culurgiònes, prior to looking up the words at home yesterday, having purchasing some of that exotic(?) filled pasta an hour earlier.
I’m happy that we were able to enjoy the two courses as I was able to put them together, with the help of the internet, but the meal might eventually be better remembered better for what I learned about these foods, as I now feel better equipped to present them both more minimally and more naturally.
The halibut should probably be gently sautéed, in butter or olive oil, maybe with a little favorite fresh allium involved, and then finished with a bit of fresh lemon and an herb.
I don’t know why I decided not to go with the addition of a little tomato (fresh cherry tomato), especially since, yeaaah, I was working with shellfish, fish roe, and the first ramps of the season, but it’s now something I’m going to look forward to, that is, as long as Eataly’s Luca Donofrio decides to make these dumplings again.
Another confession: I ended up using the same garnish on the halibut that I had already decided to scatter on top of the pasta; I don’t know why, and I also don’t know what I had originally thought I would team with the fish.
- a tablespoon or so of butter melted inside a large tin-lined copper sauté pan, one chopped medium red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm and 3 small sliced Rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm added and sautéed until translucent, then some salt; half of a tablespoon of scissored chives from Lucky Dog Organic Farm; the zest from almost one whole organic Whole Foods Market lemon, along with a little lemon juice; and one fourth of a cup of white wine added, after which the liquid was heated until reduced by a third, and one tablespoon of rinsed salted Sicilian capers stirred in, and 6 halibut cheeks (8 ounces) purchased from Eataly Flatiron that afternoon were slipped into the skillet and cooked, covered, for 3 minutes or so on on each side, the cheeks and the sauce arranged on 2 plates, garnished with chopped bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm, plus a spray of that same herb as well [the basic recipe is on this site]
- arugula from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed with a small drizzle of Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil, the gift of a friend, Maldon salt, and freshly-ground black pepper
- twelve ounces of a lump crab, fish roe, spring ramp, and mascarpone-filled pasta (called ‘culurgiones‘, ‘sacchetti‘, or ‘sacchettone‘) from from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron store, boiled carefully in a large amount of well-salted water, drained, some of the pasta water retained, slipped into a large antique high-sided tin-lined copper pot in which one sliced stem of spring garlic stem from Windfall Farms had been heated in a tablespoon or so of Portuguese olive oil, stirred over medium heat with the addition of some of the pasta water to emulsify the liquid, then some freshly-ground black pepper added, the pasta arranged inside 2 shallow bowls, more olive oil drizzled around the edges, garnished with chopped bronze fennel from Windfall Farms
- the wine was a German (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) white, Elbling, Furst 2016, from Astor Wines
- the music was Beethoven’s ‘Die Geschöpfe Des Prometheus’ (The Creatures of Prometheus), Op.43, the complete ballet music, performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
This meal followed something of a routine: Each of the 3 main elements was modeled on a preparation I’ve done many times before. Most of the details however were new.
I neglected to get a picture of the deeply-serious-looking bronze fennel while it was still at the market stall earlier in the day, but here’s a shot of the beautiful micro red amaranth that embellished the swordfish last night.
There’s a little more to that story: I had intended to accompany the potatoes with the amaranth and arrange the fennel fronds around the fish, but I inadvertently reversed that arrangement in my rush to dress the plates for the table. I’m not sure it really made any difference.
I did however capture the chives, which made it onto the potatoes even prior to the fennel, before I left the market.
- one 13-ounce yellowfin tuna steak off of Scott Rucky’s fishing vessel, ‘Dakota’, from Pura Vida Seafood, halved, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and rubbed, tops and bottoms, with a mixture of dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia that had been crushed in a mortar and pestle with a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi, also from Buon Italia, pan-grilled above a brisk flame (for barely a minute on each side), finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market and some olive oil, served with micro red amaranth from Windfall Farms
- six Nicola potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm scrubbed and boiled, with their skins, inside a medium vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the still-warm pot, tossed with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and scissored chives from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, garnished with bronze fennel from Norwich Meadows Farm
- one bunch of collard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, the larger leaves stemmed, cut as a rough chiffonade, then braised inside a heavy antique high-sided, tin-lined copper pot in which 3 small crushed Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic cloves had been allowed to sweat with some olive oil, the dish finished with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a Portuguese (Dão) white, Quinta Dos Roques Encruzado 2015, from Garnet Wines
- the music was a streaming of the terrific sort-of-old album (I think I bought the LP in 1990), ‘Points of Departure‘, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performing works by Fred Lerdahl: ‘Waves’ (1988); Jacob Druckman: ‘Nor Spell Nor Charm’ (1990); WIlliam Bolcom: ‘Orphee-Serenade’ (1984); and Michael James Gandolfi: ‘Points of Departure’ (1988)
The salumi course incorporated 3 different national traditions, but it still looked Italian.
- two ounces of Fermin Salchichón Ibérico dry-cured sausage from the Chelsea Foragers Market, made from the ‘pata negro’ breed of pig (Iberico pork, salt, nutmeg, black pepper, white pepper, plus seasoning which consisted of sugar, trisodium citrate, sodium nitrate, and potassium nitrate), drizzled with a bit of Frankies 457 Sicilian olive oil, the gift of a friend
- wild cress from Lani’s Farm, dressed with more of the olive oil, a bit of Maldon salt, and some freshly-chopped black pepper
- slices of an organic sourdough baguette from Bread Alone
The pasta was something of a highbrid as well, although it too looked more Italian than anything else.
The Italian for red-veined sorrel? I think its ‘acetosa venata di rosso‘, if you can find it.
- two handfuls of red-veined sorrel leaves from Lani’s Farm, roughly chopped, folded into 3 ounces of softened Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, along with more than a teaspoon of juice and the same amount of zest from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, scraped onto a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper, rolled into a log and placed inside the refrigerator until ready for use to initiate a sauce once 12 ounces of fresh pasta had been cooked al dente and drained (specifically, a fettuccine from Raffetto’s of New York City, whose ingredients are only durum flour, whole fresh eggs, and water, purchased at the Chelsea Foragers Market), the sorrel butter placed over a low flame inside a large antique tin-lined copper pot to melt, the pasta added, and then most of 2 ounces of toasted pine nuts as well, everything mixed well before the pasta was slipped into 2 bowls, sprinkled with the remaining pinoli, and garnished with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Hombre from Whole Foods Market [I forgot to add a garnish of an ounce of micro red amaranth from Windfall Farms I had planned to include]