September 06, 2009

...And For Your Last Meal?

As I enjoy my morning coffee I realize that I have answered one of life's most entertaining questions; at least for a foodie. If you were to die to tomorrow, what would you have for your last meal? Morbid, I know, but not an uncommon question for some. Chefs use that question as a game. A conversational foil whilst blowing off steam after work; with a few beverages to be sure. While I am not a chef I do play one in my spare time. :) The truth of the matter was that I didn't know the answer to that question until now or at least I couldn't settle on one thing. I needed a few more options to be sure... and lets not forget desert! That could be a category in and of itself. But today, this morning, even last night as I sat in total contentment after a wonderful meal I knew this was the answer. I knew the answer came from one of life's most humble cuts. The one that when I mentioned it to my non-foodie friends they said "a what??" "Is that any good?" Even butchers were a little surprised when I asked for it. "What's he want?" "What ya gonna do witit?" That's a word in Kentucky. :) One butcher looked as if he either wanted my address or my hand in marriage when I told him what I was "gonna do witit!" I'm not sure he knows which, but I believe he is still secretly hoping for an invite to dinner. :) I found this humble piece of charcuterie in the town of Bards. Or, Bardstown as we call it... some say bargetown, but they probably say y'all too. Wait... I say y'all... anyway, I digress. :) There is a place out there called Boone's Butcher Shop that is carnivore nirvana! I may have to move closer just to avoid the 2 hour round trip. :)

OK... hopefully I haven't prattled on to the point were you left, but here it is... the piece of meat involved is... Pork Belly! Yes... fresh bacon. You must get it with the skin on and crackle it over a hot fire! Oh... my God! I am getting a head of myself. Here is how it happened and the sandwich that has now garnered my enduring love as life's greatest last meal.

I must also give credit where it is due. The recipe is from the Adam Perry Lang cookbook Serious Barbecue via London and Jamie Oliver. If you love grilling you must obtain a copy. That's all I'm saying... read this and go to the book store and buy it. Today. Don't wait... go now. If only because I have not given you the whole recipe. :)

We got a whole pork belly with the skin on. Uncured, unsmoked, and unaltered in any way-- save removed from the pig. It weighed about 10 pounds and was a lovely flat fatty soft and firm piece of meat. Almost pretty to look at actually.
Since that is a lot of bacon and there were only 4 of us I cut it in half. It was marinated over night with ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, Serrano chiles, coarse salt and black pepper. Then some water and butter, as if this thing needs butter ;), was added to the marinade. The belly was placed skin side up in a foil pan, the marinade was poured over top, and the package was sealed tightly with aluminum foil. It got braised for 5 1/2 hours at 275, rested a bit, and put on a hot grill to crisp the skin. If you try this be very careful at this point as it will be soft and jiggly on a level I have never seen before. Well... there was that one college... uh... never mind. :) Just be careful. Once it was crispy it got a bourbon glaze and then rested in some olive, chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sliced thin, well as thin as you can, against the grain. And all the angels said yum!! In glorious harmony of course. :)

I had put together, in the mean time, some home made applesauce from the grill and the wife had prepared a field green salad with a tart vinaigrette as well as a loaded tater salad. I don't have pics of all this, but trust me its important. Oh yeah... and we got some Coleman's mustard and ciabatta rolls. Some of you have jumped ahead... that's OK.

So there is the sandwich. A fresh ciabatta roll, spread one side with some Coleman's mustard, spread the other side with a little homemade applesauce, pork belly on the bottom slice, and a pile of the tart greens on top. Close it up and be prepared for a flavor profile that is crispy, salty, sweet, spicy, tart, and unctuous. No other way to put it... it just was perfect. As you bite slowly through, and you should go slowly, a complex wave of flavor rushes over, floods, and tingles your tongue unlike any other. It was slap and tickle for your mouth. :)

...and as we now know...

So Juju... If you were to die tomorrow what would your last meal be?

Without a doubt... The pork belly sandwich. Let me tell you about it...


  1. This is beautiful...

    I have only heard of pork belly in old movies. Sounds like something John Wayne would have rustled up for dinner. I know photos are tough to show, but it looks almost like country ribs with that layer of fat running through it. Your post-jiggly phase instructions were very helpful.

    One question...price per pound?

    OK, 2 questions, are you going to cook the other half in the same way, or create something new?

    A terrific complicated recipe with a great payoff...I LOVE IT!

  2. 1. It was about 1.20/pound and I will do this again, but I may try a more Asian preparation next time.


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