Monday, June 30, 2008

Hesperia BBQ Competition 2008 - Four Q BBQ

Prepping Ribs- Photo by my friends Star-B-Que

More photos:
Flickr Photos

Four Q finished 8th overall out of 20 teams. I just got to refine my recipes and prep style as the pulled pork and ribs didn't do as well as I had hoped. I know what I have to do to improve and for sure, next event,I will be a force to contend with.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Four Q BBQ at Hesperia 20th Annivesary Celebration BBQ Competition

Hesperia (California) BBQ Competition

June 28, 2008

Hesperia Civic Plaza Park

15833 Smoke Tree Street Hesperia Ca. 92345

The Cook Off is in a new park where the City of Hesperia will celebrate its First 20 Years

Added A Little Smoke To The Pork Bellies

I warned you that I was obsessed with these pork bellies. The only thing that was missing from my original prep was a little smoke flavor. I dropped a few hickory chips onto the charcoals on my little Smokey Joe and placed three cubes of lightly salted pressed pork belly directly over the heat source. I also placed a couple of pork loin fillets on the fire (sale at Costco this past week). With the grill cover, a small amount of smoke could lightly flavor the meat. I rotated the sides of the cubes over the heat leaving the skin side for last. When the skin side of the pork belly hit the direct heat- crisp, crackle and voila, pork belly goodness.

I have 12 more cubes of this stuff in my freezer. I'm not finished experimenting. Next step is to develop that yummy garlic sauce I prepped during the braising process. I didn't even taste the pork loin yet as I consumed all those cubes of pork belly.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Braised and Pressed Pork Belly

After my recent lunch at the French Laundry, I have been obsessed with preparing pork belly. Now there is no published recipe that I could find for the way it was prepared at the French Laundry so I decided to go with Chef Ramsey's.

Gordan Ramsey's Recipe

Pressed Belly of Pork

My recipe was adapted to cooking in farenheit versus centigrade.

3-3.5 lbs slab Pork Belly
Whole bulb Garlic cut in half

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Lay pork belly flat on a chopping board. Score the skin evenly in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Turn the belly skin side down. Rub all over with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

3. Place the garlic, halved side up, on a lightly oiled roasting pan and scatter over the thyme sprigs. Lay the pork belly on top, fat side up. Trickle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Add a splash of white wine around the pork, cover the meat with a piece of foil and bake for 1½ hours. Remove the foil, baste the pork with the juices and return to the oven, uncovered, for another ½-1 hour until the meat is tender. Continue to baste the pork occasionally with the pan juices.

4. Transfer the pork to a clean chopping board and leave to cool slightly. While still warm, place another tray on top of the pork and weigh down with a few heavy tins to flatten it. Cool completely, then chill for four hours or overnight in the refrigerator to set its shape.

5. Pour off any excess oil from the roasting tray and then place tray over high heat. Deglaze the tray with a generous splash of white wine, scraping the bottom and crushing the heads of garlic with a wooden spoon to release the sediment. Boil the liquid until reduced by half, then add the chicken stock and bring back to the boil until reduced and thickened. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing down on the garlic pulp with the back of a ladle. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

6. Heat the oven to the highest setting, about 500 F.

7. Cut the pressed pork into individual portions or squares and pat the skin dry with kitchen paper. Place the pork squares, fat side up, in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Rest the pork for 5 minutes, then serve with the light gravy and accompaniments.

This recipe provides 12-16 portions. The unused portions can be frozen for final crisping at a later date. What I did find that was missing from my memory of the French Laundry prep was the very light smoky flavor. I was even thinking of smoking the cubes to add a smoky flavor, then crisping next time using the frozen cuts I reserved.

One might ask, how is this supposed to be served? Well, it seems like any way you want. Keep in mind, you gotta love fatty cuts of meat. Suggestions may include with a side of rice, in a noodle broth with flavorings of your choice, straight up crispy and succulent. I thought of serving as a garnish with some southern greens and corn bread.

Oh yea, by the way, this did taste very good, especially the crispy, salty skin. Would I do again? Probably, but with some smoke.

Flickr Photos of Braised and Pressed Pork Belly