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The final courses

Since it has been so long since I have posted, I am including the final courses all in one post with a brief explanation of each.  The 3rd course was a buttermilk fried chicken liver terrine with ricotta, peach hot sauce and caviar.  This was a challenge and something that was an imitation of a dish that my wife and I had at Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant, WD-50 in NYC.  Decadent, sweet, spicy, creamy and salty this went really well with a California desert wine that was an unintended pairing.

The fourth course was a pan roasted duck breast over duck confit black lentils with a fig chardonnay sauce.  I just love duck…it’s as simple as that.  Paired with an excellent bottle of 1993 Echezeaux, a very big bourdeaux that was excellent with the rich, fatty duck.


The final course was a Mario Battali recipe, maple mascarpone cheesecake.  Excellent!


The wines…



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The second course was a seared scallop over smoked corn bisque with shaved black truffles.  A little richer than the first course with the creaminess of the bisque and the sweetness of the corn and seared scallop.  The corn was first smoked for 30-40 minutes then sliced off of the cob, sautéed in butter with garlic and shallots then pureed with milk and cream.  A seared scallop was placed on top and black truffle shaved over the top.  The truffle added an earthiness that is incomparable to any other flavor but pairs perfectly with the sweet corn and scallop.  For this course the pairing was a 2009 chassagne montrachet.  The richness of this wine went very well with the buttery, richness of this dish.


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1st Course – Crab Towers

Okay.  It’s safe to say it has been a little while since my last post.  The emails have been POURING in.  Okay maybe not pouring in, but I have had a few people getting on me about having a blog with no posts.  So I’m coming back from a brief hiatus with the first of five courses from my now second annual five course meal.  This year’s meal was a party of 12 family members all packed into a small beach villa.  Everyone had a good time, but the hands down winner for the “most engaged award” was my Uncle Claude.  Since he brought the wines to pair with each course, we let him take all of the time he needed to explain each wine with each course.  And his choices were all incredible.  We actually started the evening with a little something to get the taste buds going (fancy French call it amuse bouche).  I served an oyster shooter with a smoky rhubarb mignonette.  It’s a raw oyster with a tangy vinegar on flavored by diced rhubarb and bacon fat from real smoked bacon.  The slightly sweet rhubarb, tanginess of the apple cider vinegar and subtle smokiness from bacon fat matched perfectly with the briny oyster.

I wanted to start the first course off with something light and coastal.  I actually used a recipe on this dish.  It looked so good, there was little I felt I could do to improve it.  It is Frank Stitt’s Crab Tower from his incredible cookbook “Southern Table”.  It is very simple, but very good.  Layers of diced avocado, roasted red peppers and fresh crab tossed with a lemon mayonnaise.  The buttery avocado mixed with the slightly smoky flavor of the roasted red pepper, the light acidity from the lemon mayo and the fresh crab on top is a perfect beginning to any meal.  The first course was paired with a 2008 Chablis.  It paired perfectly as the acidity and butteriness in the wine came out with the avocado and lemon.  The light minerality of the chablis is a great match for the delicate flavors of the crab.  Very tasty.

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ImagePork Tenderloin with Chipotle Fig Preserves

I think it is fair to say it has been a while since my last post.  I have had thousands of emails asking me to “please update your blog”.  Okay, not really.  I thought I would start back with a simple weeknight meal that is common in our house.  Pork tenderloin with roasted green beans and glazed carrots.  The main inspiration for this pork was a chipotle fig preserve made by one of my oldest friend’s dad, Mr. Richard Creed.  I have to say it was very good.  If you’re lucky, you know him and can ask for  a jar.  I rubbed the pork tenderloin with a coffee, cocoa and chili powder rub.  Served with simple roasted green beans and glazed carrots.  Glazed carrots are very easy and very good.  Basically, you just saute carrots in butter or oil, add a spice mixture with brown sugar (see below) and let the sugar glaze the carrots.  Quick, easy and delicious.  See below for recipes.

For the Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin
coffee rub
– 2 tbsp coffee
– 1 tbsp cocoa powder
– 3 tbsp salt
– 1 tbsp chili powder
– 1 tbsp cayenne
– 1 tbsp garlic powder
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl mix all ingredients for the coffee rub.  Rub the pork tenderloin with enough rub to cover the loin completely.  Heat a large fry pan on medium high and add the oil.  Sear the pork on each side for 4-5 minutes.  Place the pan in the oven for another 5 minutes and remove from oven.  Let the pork rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing.

I simply spooned on the chipotle fig preserves over the sliced pork.  If you are not so fortunate to have the same preserves, you could just as easily spoon some store bought fig preserves.  The bitterness of the coffee and cocoa rub with the sweetness of the preserves and the slight heat of the chipotles makes for an excellent combination.

For an even tastier twist on  this, my always amazing wife wrapped the pork tenderloin in thin slices of country ham and seared it with the ham on.  She then added the preserves to the pan, heated it up and spooned the sauce over the pork.  Very good.

For the Glazed Carrots:

3 or 4 Carrots cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp rub from above (or any other rub you like)
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp butter

In a fry pan or saute pan over medium high heat add the butter.  Saute the carrots for 8-10 minutes until tender.  In the last minute of cooking add the spice rub and brown sugar.  Toss the carrots around in the brown sugar until all the carrots are glazed over.  Enjoy.

For the Green Beans:

Green beans
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Very simple.  Preheat oven to 350.  Toss the green beans in olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper on a baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes.

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Let me tell you about my Aunt Betty.  She is the best.  She also really knows how to cook.  But sometimes she prefers to ask me to do it instead.  When she told me that she had a Caw Caw Creek pork shoulder waiting for me, I jumped at the opportunity.  This was actually my first Caw Caw Creek shoulder.  You cannot even believe the layer of beautiful fat on top of this piece of meat.  Fat means flavor and juiciniess.  Aunt Betty also had a tremendous amount of okra.  What do you do with okra in the south…FRY IT.  I also have a love of spoonbread.  It’s like the perfect combination of cornbread and corn pudding.  Not as mushy as corn pudding or as dry as cornbread.  I love it.  But the real star of this meal was the huge hunk of Caw Caw Creek pork shoulder that Aunt Betty bought from my man Emile.  It’s super easy to cook and hard to mess up because of all of the fat in the meat.  I brined my shoulder but it is probably not necessary with this piece of meat due to the amount of fat and flavor in these pigs.  If you score the skin, it will give you those awesome crispy bits of skin on the top.  They are salty, buttery and crisp.  Mmmmm pork fat.  This would be a great holiday meal for anyone to try.

For the Pork:

1 large pork shoulder
1 bunch of rosemary
1/4 cup kosher salt
pepper to taste

This is really simple.  I would probably do much more to a store bought pork shoulder.  However, with Caw Caw Creek pork I think this is all that you need to do.  Let the awesome porkiness speak for itself.  Rub the salt, pepper and rosemary all over the pork shoulder.  Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before inserting into the oven.  I roasted my shoulder at 275 degrees for about 6.5 hours and the pork was perfect.  On the Caw Caw Creek website they direct you to roast for 6-9 hours.  Let rest for 15-20 minutes so that the juices redistribute in the meat.  Slice and Enjoy!

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Five Course Meal – 5th Course

I am sure this whole five course meal thing has become stale and lame at this point.  So, I will make only a quick entry on the 5th and final course.  For dessert we finished the evening with a Chocolate Caramel Nut Tart.  The recipe was not mine but it was incredibly delicious and very rich.  I actually replaced the milk chocolate that the recipe called for with dark chocolate (I don’t have much use for milk chocolate).  The recipe is from Frank Stitt’s cookbook “Frank Stitt’s Southern Table”.  It was fairly time-consuming to make, but it was very good.  I will be posting the recipe via a scanned image since it is longer than I am willing to retype.  I would highly recommend trying this recipe and anything from this cookbook.

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4th course – Crispy Braised Caw Caw Creek Pork Belly with Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice and Okra Risotto

The fourth and final savory course.  Mmmmm…pork belly.  Seriously.  How can you mess up a large piece of Caw Caw Creek pork belly.  Never cooked pork belly?  You can’t mess it up.  Never eaten pork belly?  You will love it…I promise.  Never heard of pork belly?  Yes you have…you just don’t know it.  Pork belly is what bacon is made from.  Bacon is just brined or salted pork belly that has been cured then smoked.  So basically this dish is a big hunk of unsmoked bacon that is braised for a few hours in red wine.  How bad can that be?  It is so crispy on the outside with a soft, succulent inside.  To use a line from our favorite local car dealer “experience it once and you’ll never forget it.”

I think that the pork belly went perfectly with the earthy, clean flavors of the okra risotto.  Anson Mills is a local to Columbia old school rice and grits dealer.  They have exceptional grits.  This is the first time that I have had their rice and it was extremely delicious.  You can just as easily boil the rice and eat it the typical southern way with some gravy on it.  I felt this was a bit more refined.   Fah fah fah fah.  Check them out at www.ansonmills.com.  To buy pork belly go to www.cawcawcreek.com

For the Risotto:

4 cups water
1 cup rice
2 cups okra slice into chunks about the thickness of a thumb
1/2 small onion
3 or 4 country ham hocks/pieces (you can get them from www.cawcawcreek.com)
3 or 4 tbsp olive oil

In a medium-sized pot, add the water and the country ham pieces.  Slowly bring to a simmer and let cook for 10-15 minutes.  In a medium saute pan, add the onions and saute for 2 or 3 minutes on medium.  Add the okra and saute for 2-3 more minutes.  Add the rice and stir around the pan for 1-2 minutes until the rice is golden in color.   Add 1 cup of the country ham broth and stir.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the broth is thickening up.  Add another cup and follow the same process.  Continue adding the broth until the rice has just lost its hard bite.  You want a risotto to be a little loose, not like mashed potatoes.  It should be almost like a thick chowder in consistency.

For the pork belly:

4-5 lb pork belly
2 or 3 carrots cut into 2 inch thick chunks
1 large onion quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 bottle red wine
beef stock
kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 275.  Season the pork belly liberally on both sides with salt.  In a large dutch oven sear both sides of the pork belly on high heat until browned on both sides.  This could take longer than you think.  You really want it to be brown.  Probably 5-7 minutes per side.  Remove the pork from the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium high.  Add the carrots, onions and garlic to the pan.  Saute the vegetables for 5-6 minutes or until browned.  Place the pork belly back in the pan and try to nestle it in the vegetables.  Add the wine.  Then add enough beef stock to come just over half way up the pork belly.  Cover the pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 6 hours.  Remove from the oven.  Remove the pork belly from the pan and let cool for 30 minutes.  Coverw ith foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Strain the sauce into a large pot.  Place on a medium high burner and simmer until reduced by half.  Refrigerate and reheat for serving.

About 30 minutes before serving, remove the cooled pork belly from the refrigerator and slice into cubes 3 in x 3 in.  In a large saute pan on medium high heat add 3 tbsp of olive oil.  Sear the pork belly skin side down first for 3-4 minutes.  Flip and sear on the other side for 3-4 minutes.

To serve, place a large ladle of risotto in the middle of the plate.  Place the seared pork belly on top of the risotto.  Spoon the reheated sauce around the plate.  Drizzle balsamic glaze on top.  Enjoy!

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