Monthly Archives: December 2009

Pork Prime Rib

I love a standing rib roast, and I do love the flavors of a prime rib though I am not the type to order it at a restaurant. I also love pork in all ways, racks, bellies, bacon, head cheese, loins, trotters, jowls, you name it I love it. So I decided to try creating my own version of a “Pork Prime Rib”. I like a good pork rack but it lacks the fat (i.e. protection and flavor) of a standing rib roast. Thinking about how to handle this situation it dawned on me that what the rack needed was all of the goodness of a braised pork belly. Now how am I to add a belly to a rack you ask? With transglutaminase (meat glue, also know as activa) of course. I went out and found a great four bone rack along with a beautiful piece of belly to go along with. I took them home and carefully glued them together using transglutaminase.

I have to stop here and truly ask those who read this and decide to work with a meat glue (transglutaminase) to do all the research they can. This chemical while fun is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal. Not because of side effects but because of what it does. Transglutaminase bond proteins together and they do not discriminate. Should you breathe them in, then you will end up with lungs that are glued shut. So again, please do all the research possible and take all of the necessary precautions when using this product.

Now back to the project at hand. My theory was that I needed a larger amount of fat, or fatty tissue between the primary heat source and the back part of the bones along with a lower overall temperature and longer time period in order to cook this thing properly. I carefully trussed the meat so that it would maintain a nice round shape and scored the fat cap of the belly in an attempt to render the fat quicker thus flavoring the meat before it was over cooked. I then seared the entire thing on all sides in a hot roasting pan. Placing the pork on a rack in the same roasting pan I then put it in a 250 degree Fahrenheit or 120 degreses Celsius or Gas Mark 1/2. I cooked the pork for just over eight hours, longer than I expected to have to cook it, and longer than I wanted to cook it. I did not monitor the internal temperature on purpose. The reason for this is the fact that I know how long pork belly can take to cook to a perfect point of tenderness. What I was hoping for was the rack of pork to work out because of the added layers of meat and fat the heat had to get through until it was completely cooked. I had thought about gluing the belly all the way around the rack and looking back I probably should have tried that. The two reasons I didn’t do it were one I did not like the presentation aspects of it, and two I did not think the meat below the bone line would cook the same as the meat glued to the rack meat.

After cooking the entire piece until the belly section was tender enough for me to want to eat it I removed it from the oven and allowed it to rest for 30 minutes. I then put it back into a 350 degree Fahrenheit or 180 degree Celsius or Gas Mark 4 oven to reheat for a mere 10 minutes. From the pictures you can see that the pork in my opinion was over cooked though it had an amazing flavor. I was going for a medium well done here thinking that the belly itself should be no less than well done leaving the rack meat at a medium well. Overall the belly was tender, needing no knife to cut it, and the pork rack itself had a wonderful flavor. You may also notice that the belly started to come off of the rack which in my opinion did add to the over cooking of the rack meat itself though not by much.

For the next attempt I am going to cook it using two different methods. First I will slow sear the belly part just as I would a duck breast, allowing the fat to render down slowly and for that wonderful Maillard reaction to occur. Once I have achieved a beautiful caramel crisp exterior I will the cook the pork as I would a standing rib roast at 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 1/4 for one hour per pound to achieve a medium internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 63 Celsius. I will again allow the meat to rest for a period of 30 minutes and then return it to a 350 degree Fahrenheit or 180 degree Celsius or Gas Mark 4 oven for a period of 15 minutes to re heat at which point I will slice and serve.

— matt bolus


Filed under Charleston, Cooking, Flavor, Ideas, Matt Bolus, pork, Pork Belly, Pork Rack, Rack of Pork, Standing Rib Roast, Uncategorized

Several dish ideas

Lamb Rack

Soft Shell Crab

Breast of Squab

— matt bolus

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Offal experiment completed

Cold infused

Yesterday I mixed together 2 separate batches of marinade each consisting of 1 quart of cream with a half a bunch of fresh thyme, 12 black peppercorns, to cloves of fresh garlic (smashed), 1 bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. One of the batches I simply mixed everything together and added the liver, the second batch I heated to just under a boil and allowed to cool naturally. I used both beef liver and calves liver for this final test. After soaking over night I rinsed each of the eight pieces off in cold water and seasoned them with salt and ground black pepper. The first four pieces cooked (two beef and two calves, one from each of the marinades) were simply dusted in flour and seared in bacon fat. The next four were blanched in salted boiling water for 15 seconds, then dusted in flour, and finally seared in bacon fat. I have to clarify this now, the bacon fat I use is the platinum of all fats, bacon fat from rendered Benton’s bacon.

Warm infused

The results were great. First of the calves liver was far better tasting with a firm consistency than that of the beef liver. They seemed to cook better as well, keeping better form and cooking more evenly. The marinade worked better than expected with the warm infused marinade giving off a much better flavor to the liver. The blanching I found did nothing to benefit the liver at all. My theory was based on the way I like to prepare sweet breads, but like many theories proved to be incorrect. In the end the best piece of liver was from the calf and was marinated with the warm infused cream over night. Light herbs, a touch sweet, still rich with very little metallic taste or after taste, and a slight bite from the Dijon and raw garlic. Overall it was by far the best piece of liver I have ever eaten other than foie gras, which nothing can compete with anyway. Now it is time to perfect the bacon and onion jam, Dijon cream sauce, and Parmesan mashed potatoes to finish the dish with.

What to do with the last piece of the trial?

Liver sandwich

That is right, make a sandwich out of it. Our fresh made Ciabatta bread with Dijon spread on it, topped with mashed Yukon gold potatoes, bacon lardons, and seared calves liver and shallots. If only I had a fine Chianti…………………….

— matt bolus


Filed under Brown Sugar, Calves Liver, Charleston, Cooking, Dijon Mustard, Flavor, Heavy Cream, Ideas, Liver, Liver and Onions, Mashed Potatoes, Matt Bolus, Seabrook Island, Uncategorized

Sweet Potatoes

After featuring our sweet potato puree at several public functions we have had multiple requests for the recipe. I also want to add that when we call it a “puree” it really is no different from mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes are not as starchy as their Idaho cousins and can be put into a blender to add all the goodness to them without taking on a gummy texture. This is one of the most simple recipes and changed my life with sweet potatoes forever.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 6. Do nothing to the sweet potatoes, leave the skin on, do not coat in oil, do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until very soft. The time it takes to cook the potatoes will of course vary according to where you are at geographically speaking, the size of the potatoes, and whether or not you oven is a conventional oven or a convection oven. It should take roughly 30 minutes to completely cook a medium to medium large size sweet potato. Once the potatoes are cooked through take them out of the oven, have your blender ready. Working quickly and carefully remove all the skin (should peel off very easily) and put the flesh into the blender. For every sweet potato that you cook you will need to have ready 1 1/2 Tablespoons or 3/4 ounces or 22 grams of cold butter and a pinch of salt. Add the butter to the potatoes and season with salt. I don’t use pepper with this recipe but you can of course change it how you would like to. Puree the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly combined and the texture is velvety smooth.

Let me know how you like it. I have also added vanilla to the mix in the form of either extract or scraped beans. This will sweeten the end result so be careful with what you are serving it with. I have also added dark brown sugar and Tabasco sauce (in copious amounts) with great results; a sweet and spicy potato.

— matt bolus

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Filed under Brown Sugar, butter, Charleston, Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Kiawah Island, Mashed Potatoes, Matt Bolus, Potato Puree, Potatoes, Red Sky, Restaurant, Seabrook Island, sweet potatoes, Uncategorized

Back to the liver

So the first cooking test are complete and the winner is more than obvious. All the pieces before cooking were rinsed in cold water and then dredged in flour seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. Each was pan seared individually in a cast iron pan using a blend oil. I would use bacon fat normally but for this experiment I wanted to keep things as neutral as possible. The soaking of the liver in the different mediums changed the color, smell, and texture of the liver more than I expected truthfully. The yogurt soaked liver was the least affected and seemed to somewhat cook the liver on the outside (no where near cooked all the way through).

Raw to yogurt soaked from right to left.

The unsoaked liver, as expected, was amazingly metallic and nearly too much to choke down. Moving to the half and half soaked live and the metallic bite was greatly removed though still noticeably there. The liver had a much cleaner taste but no change in texture. The liver soaked in heavy cream (which was the original idea) had very little metal taste, just enough for you to know that it is in fact liver that is being eaten. I would compare it to the mildness of chicken livers with a richer overall flavor. Finally, the yogurt soaked liver was disappointing. The liquid removed some but not much of the overall metallic flavor. Also, there was an after taste of tanginess that was less than desirable.

So the next round of tests will start tonight. I am going to mix some light brown sugar and Dijon mustard into the heavy cream as well as some fresh thyme and a bay leaf. For the first and second pieces I will heat the cream slightly to infuse the flavors as well as to try an extract more of the bloody flavor. One of these pieces will be merely dredged in floor and then seared. The second piece will be quick blanched in salted boiling water and shocked in ice water before being dredged and seared. For the third and fourth pieces I will just add all of the components together and allow the liver to soak in it. I will repeat the same process of cooking that I described above for the third and fourth pieces. I have to remind you that the liver I am using is beef liver which has a much stronger flavor than that of calves liver.

— matt bolus


Filed under Brown Sugar, Calves Liver, Charleston, Cooking, Cream, Dijon Mustard, Flavor, Half and Half, Heavy Cream, Ideas, Liver, Liver and Onions, Matt Bolus, Uncategorized, Yogurt

Offal experiment

Kelly and I had a great offal dinner a few weeks back at The Glass Onion here in Charleston. Ever since then I have been thinking about how to cook calves liver. I have cooking calves liver many times and always in the same way. And to be perfectly honest with you I never really liked it. However they prepared it for this dinner though has completely changed my mind and also made me think of new ways to cook it.

Traditionally I have soaked the liver in buttermilk, dredged it in seasoned flour, and then seared it in a smoking hot pan. The taste to me is no different if the liver is cooked to a mid rare or well done. Always very tangy and metallic. Thinking about it I realized that the type of liver and quality obviously plays a big role in the flavor but so does the marinade. Buttermilk has that tangy quality that works great for fried chicken but seems to me that it may add to the undesired flavor in the liver.

This trial has several parts. First I am soaking beef liver (which before you say it, I know has a stronger flavor, I did that for a reason) in half and half, heavy cream, and yogurt. I want to see how this changes the flavor of the liver. Second, once I find out which medium is better for soaking the liver I want to try mixing Dijon mustard and brown sugar into the liquid before soaking the liver. Finally, I want to quickly blanch the liver before searing it.

I will keep you updated and provide pictures as well. Any ideas or suggestions would be great. Also, I am trying to source out lambs liver if anyone knows where to get that.

— matt bolus

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Filed under Brown Sugar, Calves Liver, Charleston, Cooking, Cream, Dijon Mustard, Flavor, Half and Half, Heavy Cream, Ideas, Liver, Liver and Onions, Matt Bolus, Uncategorized, Yogurt

First radish of the garden

Just pulled the first radish from our garden today. The greens look so good and are going to taste great in a salad. The radish deserves a little olive oil and some sea salt.

— matt bolus

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Filed under Charleston, Cooking, Flavor, Garden, Ideas, Matt Bolus, Radishes, Uncategorized