Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

We moved out of the city almost a year and a half ago. It seems like ages ago, but really has not been. However, what we found in the burbs from a dining perspective can be described most nicely as “limited”. Coming from Chicago, where we could stumble down the street for any number of great things to eat and having dozens of great places to deliver food to us, it was a shock. Since moving, we’ve adjusted. We have bought a second car. My garden has grown exponentially. But, some adjustments will never be made. We usually travel into the city to eat out and go in to do so as frequently as we went out when we lived in the city.

There are so few options near us that a place serving real quesadillas with handmade tortillas four miles from our house qualifies as destination dining for me.  The quesadillas are hidden on the last page of the menu and caught my eye when I saw nopales, huitlacoche, flor de calabasa, and chorizo. I was concerned, given what I have seen in the area, these would be ortega flour tortillas and shredded cheez. Since discovering the deliciousness of the huitlacoche and nopales quesadillas, I have adopted a more regular weekend lunch pattern of grabbing lunch while out (like a normal person).

The quesadilla

When I saw in the nearby bodega, a jar of huitlacoche, I picked it up. I had a half dozen ears worth of corn smoked over corn cobs (meta) to go along with the huitlacoche. When I opened the can, I was surprised by how ugly the contents were. Black sludge with large kernels, corn silk and everything. Knowing this was corn smut, mold and fungus, I was ready. After all, I had the real thing in the kitchen last summer from a local farmer. That was a different animal. Even so, I wanted to embrace the horrifying appearance and make something where I saw the ugliness. I didn’t want to hide it in a casing or puree it into a sauce, so I made a pate.  Cross sections of black-hued pork with flecks of fungus throughout.

As ugly as it was, there was a deep richness to the pate coupled by a really unique savory quality with the combination of the smoked sweet corn, the pork and the huitlacoche. The corn brings a smokey flavor, but also a bit of color among the muddy, ugly pate.

Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

750 g fatty ground pork, I ground a fatty pork shoulder 150 g smoked corn 250 g huitlacoche 20 g kosher salt 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 4 cloves garlic, grated 1 serrano chile, roughly chopped

Panade

10 grams all-purpose flour 1 large egg 70 milliliters heavy cream

Step one: Assemble your gear and cut your pork shoulder into one inch cubes, run it through your meat grinder using the fine disc. Refrigerate.

Step two: Add corn, huitlacoche, salt, cilantro, garlic and chile

Step three: Assemble the panade and combine with the forcemeat. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, mix the forcemeat/panade until it is sticky.

Step four: Line the inside of your terrine with plastic wrap. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it inside the terrine. Fold the pastic wrap over the loaf, cover, and place terrine into a high sided roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until in reaches 2/3’s of the way up the terrine. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Step five: Remove terrine from oven and place a two pound weight on the pate to weigh it down until it cools to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.

Step six: Slice the Pâté about a centimeter thin and serve with salsa and corn tortilla.


Denny’s Test Kitchen Experience

Most of you know by now that Denny’s paid for Sean and I to fly down to their Headquarters to try their new Baconalia menu. While we where there Sean and I got to see a place the many will never see, the Denny’s Test Kitchen.

When we walked in they had the whole menu wheeled out on a cart for us to drool at. Sean told me that he couldn’t wait to sink he teeth in to that fired pork belly. Lucky for me Sean was on his best behavior and stayed in his seat.

Before they would let us eat the food, they wanted to share with us how the created Baconalia menu and what market research was done to make sure it was something customers were ready for. I guess not everyone is a bacon fanatic like us. Sean and I both agree that it was interesting to see behind the curtain of what it takes to bring a new recipe from concept to your local Denny’s.

Sean said, “I always knew it was a little more complicated than some guy standing in a kitchen throwing bacon in a pancake and then calling it a day but the amount of research and testing can leave your head spinning.”

We could only wish it was the simple.

While they were talking about the menu and what everyone on the product development team does they gave us some fruit. When I looked over a Sean I know what he was thinking, ” Why are we not being force fed handfuls of bacon”?

They ensured us that fruit was just a palate cleanser and boy I was glad they had it. If it wasn’t for the fruit I think I would have eaten my arm off. We could smell the bacon cooking from the other room.

After all the talking was over it was finally time to try the food. They started things off with a small sample of all three bacons featured in the menu, Hickory Smoked, Pepper, and Turkey. That was then followed by the rest of the menu, Bacon Flapjacks, BBBLT Sandwich, Bacon Meatloaf, and the Maple Bacon Sundae.

Now that we have this introduction out of the way, and the discloser that we tried this food in a controlled environment. It’s time to get on with the reviews. For the remainder of the week, we will be posting up our reviews of each item. Each review will have my opinion and Sean’s. That way you will get the full Mr. Baconpants teams views in one post!

Stay tuned for more…


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Bacon Tomato Capellini

Via:  The Tasty Kitchen: http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen-blog/2010/08/a-tasty-recipe-bacon-tomato-capellini/ This looks sooooooooooo good! Must visit the link above to check out more pics! The grunt of it: Here’s what you’ll need: bacon, of course, bacon grease, fresh basil, green onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, salt (optional), and capellini or angel hair pasta. - Start by chopping the produce. Give the [...]
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2134. BACON-WRAPPED RACK of VENISON

makes four servings


One 1 1/2-pound rack of venison
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
6 thin slices of smoky bacon (3 ounces)
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Set the venison in a glass or ceramic baking dish and rub with the smashed garlic. Pour the olive oil over the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Transfer the venison to a plate; discard the garlic and reserve the oil. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil until shimmering. Season the venison with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe out the skillet.

Press 1/2 cup of the cilantro onto the meaty top of the venison. Wrap the bacon around the meat, between the rib bones, overlapping slightly. Using cotton string, tie up the rack at 1/2-inch intervals to secure the bacon. Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil in the skillet until shimmering. Set the venison in the skillet, bacon side down, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Turn the rack bacon side up and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 115° to 120°. Transfer the venison to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the chicken stock and boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

Carve the venison into 4 thick chops and transfer to plates. Spoon the pan sauce over the chops, and serve.


bacon recipe courtesy of: The Food & Wine Test Kitchen, "America's Powerhouse Wines," October 2001
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