Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bacon Bomb Meatloaf

My girlfriend's usually pretty pumped about the food I make. Let's face it, when eating's concerned she's got a pretty sweet deal and she knows it - and she's more than appreciative. There are, however, some things that I'll make that she wants nothing to do with. Like this guy for instance. In fact, Charlie wanted so badly to get away from this audacious meaty-beast-of-a-feast that she actually left the house. Couldn't handle the awesomness I guess. Oh well, her loss was absolutely my gain because I sure as hell enjoyed this one. Check out - the bacon bomb.
So there's this place in Chicago called Paddy Long's, and they've got this thing on the menu called The Bacon Bomb. I heard about this and I knew immediately that I had to give it try. Meat stuffed with more meat? Always.
You start off with 12 slices of smoked streaky bacon (TWELVE SLICES OF BACON YO!).
Making the lattice like this is actually really simple, but I've tried typing it out here several times and each time I've just confused myself. Here's an excellent video that shows how it's done. (By the way can we all please just take a moment to appreciate 2014? I just typed 'how to make a bacon lattice into Google and that was the first result. God bless the Internet.)
You're basically making a meatloaf here, so however you want to flavour and bulk it out is up to you. I went with about 250g pork mince and 250g beef mince, then hit it with a sliced green chilli, one diced onion, a clove of garlic, an egg, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix it all up.
Scatter some smoked paprika over your lattice, then press your meaty mixture on top. You want a nice layer, but leave yourself a good 1/2 inch or so around the edges for foldin' n stuff.
A nice squirt of BBQ sauce will add some smokiness whilst keeping the centre of the meatloaf nice and moist. Maybe. Maybe not actually. Maybe I just think this thing needs BBQ sauce.
This is where the parchment paper comes in handy! Roll the lattice towards you, tucking as you go. Fold in the ends and tuck underneath, like a nice little meat package. A gift, if you will. The tastiest and most beautiful present that you might ever be lucky enough to receive. As a final flourish of the indulgent, a handful of brown sugar sprinkled on top will add a sweet, golden crunch.
This beauty calls for low and slow cooking. I had the oven at about 150C and baked on a wire rack for about 2 1/2 hours. Use a cooking thermometer if you want to make sure it's done. You should be able to tell though - if the whole house smells of meat and your neighbours are banging down your door to get a whiff...then it's done.
Slice it up and have a bite. This would go perfectly with a pile of mashed potatoes and some green beans. Or, if you fancy, squirt a few dollops of BBQ sauce and go in with your fingers. I won't judge.

12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
250g pork mince
250g beef mince
1 green chilli
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 egg
BBQ sauce
salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika

Friday, 17 January 2014

Pork Scratchings

Love them or hate them - I've never met anyone who just 'likes' pork scratchings. The way I've seen it, you're either like my girlfriend - who won't touch them with a barge pole (who's got a barge pole!?) or you're like me - who could quite happily munch my way through the salty little bad boys for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for all of eternity. But I won't, and I wouldn't - and not just because I would quite literally die by mid-afternoon of the second day, but because these fellas are supposed to be treats. They're meant to be enjoyed - guiltily - on the rare occasion in a pub, or even the morning after when you just need something to mop up the hangover. Or, perhaps, on a random afternoon at home when you're twiddling your thumbs and looking for an excuse to turn your oven on. Make these yourself, make them properly, but most importantly - don't make them often.
Heyyyyy remember when I told you to save the skin from that pork belly? Sure you do, it was in that awesome post on home-cured bacon. What? You didn't read that awesome post on home-cured bacon? Well that's a shame. I think you should definitely read that post on home-cured bacon.
Completely dry the skin from your pork belly, then salt the rind side and leave for about 20 minutes or so. Get yourself a nice sharp knife and cut into hefty, scratching-sized pieces. Arrange on a roasting rack and stick in a pre-heated oven at 220C. You don't HAVE to put tinfoil underneath the rack, but unless you enjoy cleaning pork fat off your oven floor it's a pretty good idea. Do it.
Cook for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown, crunchy, salty, delicious, meaty, salty, delicious... sorry, what was that? I think I fazed out for a second there. Whilst they're still hot toss them in some of your favourite spices - I went in with a teaspoon or so of smoked paprika and cumin and it worked a treat.
And you're done. Pour yourself a nice cold beer, stick the football on and dive in. These things taste so damn good, I swear they should be illegal. Just please, trust me when I say you shouldn't eat these more than, say, once a month. They're so damn good, just so damn bad.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Home-Cured Bacon

Happy New Year! Okay, so we've been all up in 2014 for over a week now and it's probably time to stop saying that, but seeing as I haven't been on here in ages I thought I'd throw one out there. My number one goal this year is to put a lot more into this blog - I really enjoy doing it and I've had some really positive comments from you lot so thanks for that. I'm kinda-sorta getting married in a few months, and I kinda-sorta feel like I might be a little pre-occupied...but I'm gonna try my darndest - still gotta eat right? Anyhow - here's a good one to kick of 2-0-1-4.
Curing my own bacon is something I've wanted to do for a while now. I think it's a bit of a foodie rite of passage, like nailing your first chocolate souffle (done) and brewing your own beer (still to do!) As it turns out, it's really easy to do - just takes some time and a bit of patience. And a lot of brown sauce.
Take a nice bit of pork belly, carefully remove the skin and much of the fat. Don't bin the skin, bag it up and stick it in the freezer - the next time you want a bit of crackling simply defrost and cook in a hot oven for about 50 minutes. Goes great with a roast dinner, but if you want to cook it up and eat it on its own I won't judge. Not one little bit.
Now you gotta make your dry cure. The curing process takes about a week and will preserve and flavour the pork belly. Provided you've got a good amount of salt in there you can make a cure out of pretty much anything - I've had a chance to try a couple variations and this is a recipe I really enjoy. Start with about 2 tablespoons of juniper berries - these have a brilliant pine flavour which works great with all kinds of meat, but especially pork. Crush them up using a pestle and mortar.
Once you've given the berries a good pounding add 1/2 cup salt, a few tablespoons of brown sugar, the same of black pepper, and then 1 tablespoon of sage. Give it a good stir and mix all dem nice spices up.
Take your dry rub and massage it into the pork belly, making sure to get into all of the little nooks and crannies. Don't act like you're not enjoying this part. Seal the pork in a food bag and pop it in the fridge. Now it's time for the hard part - the waiting.
Give it about a week in the fridge, leaving sealed in the bag and flipping over each day. The salt will draw a lot of the moisture out of the meat, so watch out for leakage. You do not want to be cleaning that out of your fridge. After a week, remove the pork from the bag and give it a good rinse under the tap. Pat it dry and then stick it back in the fridge overnight - this will dry it out and also firm it up, so it's easier to slice.
And that's makin' bacon. I found that an electric carving knife works perfectly to slice some nice thick rashers. Or, if you're feeling brave, a sharp knife and a steady hand should do the trick.
There really is only one way to enjoy a good bit of bacon. Treat it to a nice, floury bap, plenty of real butter and a good squirt of HP. Bliss.

medium-sized belly of pork
2 tbsp juniper berries
1/2 cup salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp black sugar
1 tbsp sage