Monday, July 05, 2010

Piecrust, Porchetta and Peonies Part II - The Recipes

Peonies, hydrangeas, roses & sunflowers
Though I think it wound up being the right choice, porchetta was not actually my first choice for the main course of this dinner party. My original plan had been to fry chicken in the turkey fryer - set up right there in the garden. Since we'd never done this before (never even used a turkey fryer, truth be told) I thought it would be a good idea to do a test run. Two weeks before the event, we invited a few friends over and bought three small frying chickens from Whole Foods. I cut them up, brined them, buttermilk dipped and fried them, using Thomas Keller's recipe from the Ad Hoc Cookbook.
We had a little trouble with the oil temperature at first, but once we got that figured out and turned out some edible chicken - we decided something kind of surprising. We actually didn't like Thomas Keller's recipe all that much. It calls for quite a bit of onion and garlic powder, two things I generally don't use - but I can believe might be good in fried chicken. It was also brined in lemon - and that bitterness combined with the sharpness of the garlic and onion powder was just a little much. We could have adjusted the recipe, but frying chicken for eight people on the spot was a heckuva lot of work, and we figured doubling the number of people wouldn't help, so we retooled. Enter the porchetta.
Not having made this before, I looked at a few recipes ahead of time - Zuni, Jamie Oliver, Cesare Casella - and arrived at the conclusion that if I couldn't get a skin-on pork shoulder a la Jamie, I should go with Cesare's method of wrapping a leaner cut in the belly. I ordered a whole belly and a whole shoulder from my favorite local butcher shop Homegrown Meats, and trimmed the pieces to fit. (Cesare's recipe calls for a loin, so I'm sure that would work too.) I liked the sound of the seasonings in the Zuni and Jamie Oliver recipes - so I used garlic, parsley, sage, lemon juice and zest to make sort of a chimichurri like slurry that I rubbed all overthe meat. The whole shebang then goes in the fridge to dry out overnight before roasting. (See below for the full recipe.)
Barefoot Contessa French Potato Salad
For sides I made my favorite French potato salad - and a potato gratin that I cobbled together from thinly sliced potatoes, a bechamel sauce, shredded gruyere and chives. I also made some pickled red onions, yellow wax beans and carrots. For the red onions I used this recipe, which has become my go-to as I think I've mentioned before, and for the carrots and beans I used Alice Waters' basic pickled vegetable recipe from the Art of Simple Food - see below.
I made these galettes using a quadruple recipe of this pie dough. The figs were from a friend's tree and to go with them I made some frangipane (recipe included below) which I also used for some nectarine and cherry tarts.

Fig Galette

Frangipane is a paste of ground almonds, sugar, butter and flour - it goes great with stone fruits and is often used in coffee cake or pastries. It's also delicious spread on toast and baked and topped with jam.

Nectarine and Frangipane Galette

The strawberry tart was inspired by a delicious dessert on the menu at Cafe Chloe - strawberry galette with creme fraiche ice cream. If I'd had more time I would have made the ice cream. It's insanely good with the warm, juicy tart!


adapted from Jamie Oliver, Zuni and Cesare Casella's recipes

1 whole pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
1 whole pork belly, silverskin removed and trimmed to an even thickness.
kosher salt

5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (such as Maldon)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh sage (you can just use parsley if you don't have sage on hand)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
zest of one small lemon (zest it, then juice)
juice of 1/2 small lemon
about 1/4 cup olive oil - enough to make a slurry
1/8 tsp of cayenne or ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
several coarse grinds of black pepper

The pork belly will be a long rectangular piece of meat about 1.25 inches thick. Trim the pork belly so that the short side of the rectangle is as wide as the pork shoulder is long. Unroll the pork shoulder and cut a chunk that is the right size to fit inside of the pork belly so that it wraps all the way around. Rub all surfaces of the meat with kosher salt (you should use about two tablespoons.)

In a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the salt. Add the chopped parsley and sage and crush. Add the remaining ingredients and stir (I use a small rubber spatula right in the mortar and pestle, but you can also transfer it to a bowl) Smear the mixture generously on the meat covering all interior surfaces, leaving the outer skin of the pork belly dry.

Set the pork shoulder chunk inside the pork belly and wrap the belly around it. Tie a piece of string very tightly around each end and then wrap the middle (it helps to have someone hold it together for you.) Tie it as tight as you can, since it will shrink as it roasts.

Place the roast on a shallow pan in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least twelve hours (preferably twenty four) before cooking.

Two hours before cooking, remove the roast from the oven and allow it to come to room temperature.

Half an hour before cooking, set the oven temperature for 450. Place the roast in a draining roasting pan. (I used a Costco turkey roaster.)

Put the roast in the oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 375. Roast for about 2-2.5 hours, until the internal temperature registers 165.

Slice and serve on soft rolls with pickled onions and arugula. Aioli would also be nice.

Alice Waters' Pickled Vegetables
Adapted from The Art of Simple Food

This recipe makes about six cups of pickling brine, enough for about 2 pounds of vegetables (depending on what you use.) I especially like it for carrots.

3 cups white wine, champagne or rice vinegar - or any combination thereof
3 cups water
4 tablespoons sugar
1-2 bay leaves
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
Half a dried cayenne pepper or a big pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric or curry powder (optional, but nice for the color)
2-3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, smashed but still intact
a big pinch of Maldon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium pot and pring to a boil. Cook each type of vegetable separately in the boiling brine, scooping them out and filling jars with them as they are done. Set them aside to cool. Once all the vegetables have cooked and cooled and the brine has cooled to room temperature, pour the leftover brine into the jars and refrigerate. They can be eaten right away, but I think they taste best after a day or two.

This recipe is from culinary school - so it's in weight, not volume. Mea culpa - but you really should get a kitchen scale if you don't have one :)

4.5 ounces of butter, very soft
4.5 ounces of sugar
4.5 ounces of almond meal or ground almonds
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/8 tsp almond extract
3/4 All Purpose flour
pinch of salt

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and almond meal until fluffy. Beat in the egg with the almond extract and vanilla paste. Add the flour and salt and beat just to combine.

Spread this mixture in a thin layer over the pastry base for a tart. It's especially good with puff pastry. If possible, leave a bit exposed so that it can puff and brown around the fruit.


  1. Aww I've been dying to try Thomas Keller's fried chicken... It looks delicious at least! But your porchetta looks amazing. What a fun party!


  2. Thanks for sharing your recipes-your party must have been fabulous! Those lucky guests!

  3. Congratulations guys, for a great party and for the glorious foods you prepared. How I wish we are neighbors.

  4. I am so excited you shared the porchetta recipe!

  5. Thanks for sharing your recipes