One of the consolations of the otherwise stygian food court in the Pitt Street Westfield is Justin North’s Quarter Twenty One produce shop, tucked back in the corner by the restaurant of the same name and, of course, the flagship Becasse. Not only do they make a damn fine wagyu lasagne, they always have fascinating little bits and bobs, and if you work in the area it’s worth stopping in reasonably frequently.
The other day for example I picked up a little five-point rack of suckling pig, and kept it around for the right moment – which I found last night, when I put it in the sous-vide for half an hour at 58 degrees before throwing it together with some of the Quarter Twenty One confit porkbelly (a fantastic little cheat of a pre-made ingredient). Add a few scallops with prosciutto and a pumpkin and smoky bacon puree, et voila:
I called the dish “Three Little Pigs”. Not bad for a Wednesday night if I do say so myself, especially paired with a little Coonawarra chardonnay.
How do you make a really succulent pork belly? I did a slab on the weekend, and although the crackling was as crunchy as can be, the meat failed the “melt in the mouth” test. Any tips?
Very nice looking dish. One of the problems with living in the country is the difficulty in getting such produce as your little rack of suckling pig. Mind you, I went truffle hunting at my friend’s farm today. Around 2 kilos were harvested, and I came home with a nice piece of a monster truffle that was dug up earlier in the week (over 900g!) . Was also given a beautiful leg of black face Suffolk hoggett. We will have truffle in or on quite a few dishes this week, and will infuse some into some good vodka. This is a very nice thing to do if you have the luxury of enough truffles. The highlight of the week will be the leg of hoggett, studded with truffle shavings and slow roasted.
Anon, are you brining the meat first? Braising it? How’d you cook it? There’s a lot you can do in this regard to help the process — I find that if you braise, rather than roast, you’re much better off. Dr Duck, you continue to amaze and impress. I was nearly tempted by a $50 truffle in Sydney — would have been shaved over a chestnut soup and duck confit arrangement — but I can only imagine such riches as you describe!
Prick, I’m very fortunate to have old friends who have one of the most productive truffle farms in NSW. Oh, and I didn’t get 900g, that was the original weight of the monster truffle. My piece was about 150g, which is still pretty generous. I was at the gym this evening, and Mrs Dr Duck made pana de casa with truffle butter and a little garlic to go with some cutlets. The aroma was was wonderful. Rest of the truffle butter will go on some steaks tomorrow.
Anon, the secret to succulent pork belly is start with good produce and then cook it slowly. Confit is best, but fiddly, and sous vide is also good. Just finish under the grill to crisp the skin. But it works very well in just a slow oven (150 or so depending on your oven, don’t use fan forced). You can start hot to crisp up the crackling and then turn right down after the skin bubbles.
Seriously. Chardonnay? Coonawarra?
Yes, a deeply under-rated drop I’ve enjoyed on and off for a while. It’s more than cab-sav out there…
At its best, far more satisfying than Sauvignon Blanc, and always a better food wine. A much better choice than a big red for that nice pork dish with scallops.
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