Woo it’s Thursday! There’s only one more day till the end of the week! By the sounds of it, I don’t seem to like my job, but it’s actually not that bad. I get to go out to different places and get encouraged by stories from resilient people living with mental illnesses.
A couple of days ago I was able to get home early from work and had a bit more time to cook. Usually with pork belly I would just whack it in the oven and let it do its job, but this time I decided to braise it in a sticky, sweet soy concoction. Served together with preserved mustard greens this dish is available at some Cantonese restaurants.
- 400-500 g Pork belly. Slice it across the grain at 1.5 cm thickness. Try to slice it into the size of playing cards
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 3/4 cup of water
- 3-4 strands of salted mustard greens. They look like this. Don’t get the ones that look like pickles.
- 1.5 tsp of sugar
- 2-3 cloves of garlic minced.
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp cornflour and 1 tbsp of water mixed together.
- Optional garnish of spring onions.
- Combine pork with dark soy, light soy, brown sugar and five spice powder. Massage the sauces and seasoning into the meat. You might want to wear gloves as the dark soy can stain. Let it marinate for around 2 hours.
- Heat oil in pan/wok on medium to high heat. Sear off the pork until it is browned. You have to look extra hard to see if the meat is caramelised as the colour is already brown.
- Once done take out pork and deglase the pan/wok with the 3/4 cup of water. Reserve the liquid.
- Heat oil in another pan on high heat and sautee the salted mustard greens, garlic and sugar for ~1 min until fragrant.
- Lay some of the sauteed mustard on a shallow bowl. Place as together as possible the pork and sandwich the rest of the mustard between the pieces of meat. Pour over the reserved liquid.
- Heat a wok/steamer of water on medium/high heat. Steam the pork and mustard for 1.5 hours.
- After it is done, heat pan/wok and pour in the steamed pork/mustard. Taste and see if it needs more salt/ pepper or sugar.
- When it starts simmering, add in the cornflour/water mixture. Make sure you are mixing the pork/mustard as you pour it in.
- When the sauce thickens up and comes back to a simmer switch off and serve. You can garnish it with some thinly sliced spring onions.
Yesterday was mothers day in Australia…and for those regular readers, you know what that means… Another opportunity to cook up a storm!! It’s becoming quite a pattern now, every special occasion has been accompanied by an elaborate meal. I’ve always believed that cooking is better than buying a gift, but I have a feeling that soon any positive event will be an excuse to practice my culinary aspirations.
This time, I decided to go with a ballotine. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while. The medallion of meat and textural filling just looks so fancy and fit for a special occasion. Some of the websites even said that it wasn’t too hard……
o what lies…
This was the most technical dish I think I’ve ever attempted. What was supposed to be dinner ended up being a late night supper at 9:30….However, I have to say that it was quite delicious, but then again, I don’t have prosciutto wrapped chicken everyday.
- 2 maryland cuts of chicken
- 500g chicken breast chopped roughly into cubes
- 5-6 button mushrooms sliced roughly
- Knob of butter
- 3 sprigs of thyme- leaves stripped off
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves- chopped finely
- Scant handful of shelled pistachio nuts
- Thickened cream
- Salt and pepper
- 6 prosciutto slices
- Baby spinach leaves. Snip off the longer stems
- Cling wrap
- Cooking twine
To finish off
- 2 Litres chicken stock
- 2 Litre of water
- Bowl of ice water
- Knob of butter
- Debone the chicken. I had to learn this first and found this video quite helpful. Trim off the sinew and any fat. Save the latter for roasting your veges.
- Lay out the deboned chicken pieces and pound under some cling wrap until it is somewhat flattened.
- To start on the mousse, heat butter in pan on medium heat and saute mushrooms until browned and cooked through.
- Place mushrooms and chicken breast into blender and blend until really fine.
- Whilst blending on high, slowly add in cream until a thick paste is formed.
- Fold nuts and herbs into mousse mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Season the boned chicken then lay it out flat. Evenly place the baby spinach on top of the meat as the first layer of ballotine.
- Using your hands shape some of the mousse into a sausage shape and place it lengthwise on top of the spinach and chicken. Leave an inch of space between the mousse and the edge of the chicken.
- Roughly using your hands again, roll up the chicken into a log. Try to keep it as tight as possible without having the filling spill out. Do the same steps 7-9 for the other piece of chicken
- Stretch out three layers of cling wrap and lay out 3 slices of prosciutto lengthwise along cling wrap.
- Place one roll of chicken across the prosciutto near the bottom of the clinwrap.
- Slowly grab the cling wrap and roll the prosciutto around the chicken. Use your hands to squeeze tight the ballotine as you roll. Also, make sure the cling wrap doesn’t get wrapped into the ballotine and stays on the outside. Twist off the ends like they do in lollies. Repeat steps 10-12 for the other chicken roll.
- Using twine, tie off the ends tightly. You can also tie up the ballotine 2-3 times in the middle to make sure the glad wrap doesn’t come apart in the stock. However, make sure its not too tight as the ballotine expands while cooking.
- Bring stock and water to boil in a pot large enough to fit ballotines. Place in ballotines and turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 min.
- Take out chicken after cooking and plunge into ice water.
- Remove chicken from cling wrap after cooled in water for a while.
- Heat butter in pan on medium heat until it stops foaming and has turned slightly nutty brown
- Place in ballotine and brown the outside, basting it with the butter as you turn them.
- After browned a bit, place on chopping board and cut into medallions for serving.
And that’s it. All that is left is to hope that the inside is cooked through…
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, I decided to bake a dauphinoise and roast off some turned carrots in chicken fat. Unfortunately, with the amount of cooking and tasting involved, by the end of it, I wasn’t really that hungry but at least they enjoyed it.
Here’s some evidence of my kitchen marathon
Goodbye long weekends 😦 This was the first full week back at work for me after two 3 day weekends in a row….I had a look ahead for those of us working in Australia, and the next one is on June the 9th… that’s like a whole month away. And it really doesn’t help waking up when its getting so cold in the mornings. But with colder weather comes more opportunities to simmer away some delicious warming comfort food.
Italians especially, are masters at flavour packing comfort food with their pastas and rustic stews. As I posted previously, I was inspired to try making my own tagliatelle the other day, and because I had some 00 flour left over, I decided to have a go rolling out some gnocchi. My previous attempts have been a hit and miss. I once ended up with a whole batch of rubber bullets… mmm. I think it was because I used too much plain flour and forgot to take out the egg white.
This time I trusted my touch a bit more and didn’t really follow a recipe. I ended up using:
- ~400g sebago potatoes (I cut mine into quarters)
- 00 flour
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and pepper to season
- I started by peeling and steaming the potatoes until they were soft. Then I let them cool.
- I didn’t have a potato ricer which would have been ideal, so instead I pressed the potatoes through a seive into a large bowl.
- I then mixed in the egg yolk. Roughly but gently. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t thoroughly mixed in. Season.
- Next, I add one big spoon of sifted flour into the potato mixture. This is the part where I used my hands and started folding the flour through the potatoes.
- Little by little, I added the flour and started kneading gently. Keep adding flour and kneading until the ball of gnocchi dough feels like its sitting on the border between wet and dry.
- I then tipped it out onto a floured wooden chopping board and divided the dough up into four sections.
- Taking one of the sections, I rolled it out until its diameter was sausage size and then cut it up into 2-3 cm chunks. Place in a single layer on a floured tray
- You can do that fancy thing where you roll the gnocchi on a fork but it’s fine if you don’t.
- Boil a big pot of water, salt, then drop in gnocchi
- When they float, boil for another 10 seconds and scoop out, drain a little and place into sauce.
For the sauce, I went with a simple one with tomatoes, chilli and garlic
- Olive oil
- 3 tomatoes chopped roughly. Best if they are still trussed
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped roughly
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 chillis chopped finely. Seeds removed.
- Handful of torn up fresh basil leaves if you have them
- Fresh oregano if you have it.
- Salt and pepper
- Half a ladle of water
- Parmesan to garnish
- Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and chilli. Stir a bit and make sure you don’t burn it.
- Add in tomato paste and fry for a bit until you see the oil turning orange in colour.
- Add in tomatoes. Mix for a bit and let the juices come out. Add in the water and season
- Add in the herbs. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. In the mean time boil the water for gnocchi
- Open lid and taste sauce. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Let it keep simmering away and let the sauce reduce for another 5-10 minutes. Keep tasting. I wouldn’t mind making the sauce a little bit saltier than preferred as the moisture from the gnocchi would mellow the sauce out when you put them in.
- You can probably boil the gnocchi and once they’re ready, drain and place into sauce.
- Gently, use a spatula to fold the sauce through the gnocchi. If you’re skillful (I tried and failed) you can use your wrist motion to toss the gnocchi with the sauce and let them mix together.
- Dish out and garnish with parmesan.
I had some lamb chops as well and fried them off to make it a meal. Yumm