Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuna Club

Even though I've dedicated an entire afternoon to preparing food, I'm still hungry and without something to eat. So, I decided to whip up something that might make it onto project hampden's menu in the future: the "Tuna Club."

Okay, it's not really original and a total riff on Bistro 1245's Tuna Club, but I didn't want to simply copy it exactly, so here's what I did:

- toast a piece of baguette until crispy
- slather with wasabi mayo
- Benton's smoked country bacon
- add mixed greens
- a tomato would be nice (but they're out of season)
- layer slices of seared yellowfin tuna (poke marinade
- season with Aloha Shoyu

Fold, show off to your hungry friends and eat greedily.

Kalua-ing Your Pig

Pork Shoulder Picnic ready to go.

I've got a problem. I enjoy tasting different flavors during my week and I'm absolutely terrible at planning my meals ahead of time. Because of this, I end up eating out more often than not - and I've got a larder full of fantastic foodstuffs.

Take this hunk of Pork Shoulder Picnic from Springfield Farm. It's been sitting in the fridge waiting for me to do something with it. I could dig the smoker out of the garage and smoke it up, but it's too darn cold and I'm too lazy to do that right now. Maybe something a little more low impact would be better.

Another problem is that it's just me, and this large piece of pig makes more than I can eat in a week. Really, it makes more that I would want to eat in a week. So the idea was to cut it in half and make two preparations of pork.

The first was chorizo. Simply chop the shoulder (with lots of fat included) into little brunoise (okay, maybe I might have pulsed it a bit in the food processor - but I'll never tell) and then mix with a slurry of chiles and seasoning. A little chipotle powder, some rehydrated pasillas, some fresh garlic, a little canela, some salt... Oooh, and I've still got some of that Hatch chiles from New Mexico - chop up and toss a bunch in there for good measure. Add some oregano and process in the Cuisinart until it turns into paste (note: sans pork).

Press the chile mix through a tamis and onto the chopped pork. Mix thoroughly. Pan fry a portion to check season and re-adjust if necessary.

Different recipes will give you precise amounts of chile but this one I just freestyled. It's not as delicate as Oscar Gutierrez's dried chorizo I had last year, but it will suffice for my morning pleasures.

From here, you can mix in some pink curing salt (not too much) then stuff into casings and hang to dry. That was a bit too much work for a lazy Sunday so I just rolled them up into one pound balls, vac bagged and tossed them into the freezer. Note: after bagging, I like to press the balls flat to fill the bag so I can lay them down and stuff as many into the freezer as possible.

The other half I decided to make Poor Man's Kalua Pig. Simply take the pork, rub with 'alae'a salt from Hawai'i, wrap with one ti leaf (also from Hawai'i and completely different than tea leaves), put it into a dutch oven (a Le Creuset, if you want to be fancy) and toss into a 250F oven for 10-16 hours.

The more traditional approach would be to rub with liquid smoke and wrap the entire thing in banana leaves, but I didn't have either on hand. The more traditional approach would be to put it into a mesquite smoker. Then the ultra-traditional approach would be to wrap everything in chicken wire and bury the lot in an in-ground 'imu with smashed banana stalks and lava rock heated by a keawe wood fire, but that really was too much work for a lazy Sunday.

Ten to sixteen hours later (depending on the size of the meat), the pig is done when it's tender, juicy and can be shredded with a fork.

Simply box it up in a cambro, toss it in the fridge and reheat when hunger calls and serve with hot steamed rice, Aloha Shoyu
and chili pepper water - add some sliced Maui sweet onions and haupia on the side and you're really good to go.