Our own Eric Rivera and his wife Mindy left early this morning for Copenhagen, where Eric will do a 10 day stage at Noma, the best restaurant on Earth. Not bad for someone still in culinary school! We wish you all the best, Eric, and can’t wait to hear all about it!
I finally had a chance to use my pressure cooker that I bought about a year ago. I purchased it for two reasons: #1 In Heston Blumenthal’s “In Search of Perfection” he suggests using a pressure cooker more often……SOLD! #2 I wanted to do a bunch of canning (never got around to it).
I purchased two 3.5# pieces of pork belly that I brined (one in Chinese 5 spice and the other in a smoked paprika/chili oil blend) then braised, then pressed. The process when it comes to preparing pork belly is time consuming but with a few different pieces of equipment I was able to do this in record time….for me anyway.
The brining process took me the same amount of time….about 4 hours. Luckily, Jethro has a vacuum chamber sealer so next time I’ll go that route and save even more time! The cooking time of the pork belly is what really changed things. Normally, a 3.5# piece of pork belly would take about an hour to an hour and a half to braise properly in the oven. I knocked one out in 20 minutes then the other piece in 18 minutes. The pressing and cooling process took another 45 minutes.
The next time around is what I’m excited about. Essentially, I could have a piece of pork belly brined, cooked off, and ready for pressing in under an hour. Time is everything in a kitchen and space is a concern at home.
The great thing is that I was able to dehydrate tapenade ingredients in my oven overnight then cook the pork belly in the pressure cooker. Once all of the tapenade ingredients were ready I placed them in my spice grinder then emulsified them with extra virgin olive oil then slowly worked in tapioca maltodextrin to create that pavement effect you see in the picture above.
After I made the two pork bellies I made a beef stock in the pressure cooker. Traditional French style beef stock with all the bells and whistles in 45 minutes instead of 8-12 hours. The only problem I had was that the stock was cloudy but I cleaned it up by cooking some egg whites in the stock which cleaned it right up. I talked to Jeth and Scott about this and Jeth suggested after I make the stock to use the centrifuge so I will have a super concentrated stock…..genius.
The picture above is the 5 spice pork belly, tapenade “pavement”, and flower. With a few more adjustments and tinkering I think this will turn out to be a world class dish.
15 p.s.i. ’til I die!
A little over a year ago I did a post on knives after Bob Tate came to my culinary school to do a talk (here is the original post…click). My friend, Jethro (click), knows Bob Tate and offered to get our little group of gastronauts together to go see the art of knife sharpening up close and personal.
I still use Bob’s tips to this day and it was really amazing to be invited into his home where he does the knife sharpening and has honed his own skills. He trained under Bob Kramer who has his own signature series for Shun so it was honor just to be around Mr. Tate to at least get a glimpse into the mastery that is knife sharpening.
We each brought a knife for Bob to sharpen for us…… Seriously Jethro…..a pink knife?!?!?! Uh….. Anyway, Scott brought his shiny Shun knife (middle) and I brought my money maker Mercer knife (right) for a little honing and sharpening action.
Bob showed us a few new projects he was up to and how he can create serrated knives and even sharpen them. It was amazing to watch him take a $2 knife and turn it into something usable and extremely sharp…..Eric “likes” the degree of sharpness.
I have a really weird attachment to my knife. It’s not expensive or special but it’s been along for the ride while I’ve moved through and cut thousands of things with it. When I first started using it I had no idea what I was doing…..it was too big……it was heavy…..it wasn’t my 7 inch santoku that I was used to using. I stuck with it and now I treat it like a really great friend of mine. I sharpen it myself because I don’t trust anyone else to even touch it but when I was in the home of Bob Tate I let him have it……I guess it’s kind of like dropping your kid off at a baby sitter…..weird stuff.
Bob sharpened up the pink knife and while I saw him doing it I noticed how he moved the knife over the belt gently. He asked me not to film his finishing process and not really talk about it since it was something he had learned from Bob Kramer and it really is the difference from him doing something amazing or just entrusting your knife to that random clerk at that one store with the French name downtown.
He finishes and tests every knife by doing the newspaper test.
That folks, is the sharpest pink knife in the world!!!! He finished Scott’s knife and my knife and it was like picking up your dog from the groomer….looks new….smells nice (what?)……knife is all excited to cut stuff……
Look at that shiny new edge.
No matter where I go, where I cook, or what knife I buy, Bob Tate is my knife sharpening guy.