Being a chef is sucks. We all know that. No life, no time, no health… and we are working our ass off when “the normal society” having fun and enjoying the drinks and food what we make/serve. Thats the life we chose – and it is simply impossible keep carry on if u dont enjoy this kind of suffering.
BUT. What every HeadChef should know – how to keep the team happy?¿ Hmmm…. After the hard work – let them play. Just a little bit. IT DOES MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE.
So thanks to our headChef Hector, we got a massive big pork belly to play with. Having no time during the week to touch it – but thinking enough. Decision has been made: Pork Belly Pastrami.
Let me skip the part of explaining what the pastrami is. I would say its more a technic to preserve food – curing normally with salt&sugar&spicies. Officially after the curing proccess (couple of dayz) coming the smoking part then the cooking. But obviously u can mix it up however u fancy. Lets play, right?
I made a marinade of sugar&salt&coriander&mustard&peppercorn&smoked paprika. Be gentle and rub your fatty friend to cover everywhere. Its kind of super sexual. Ehhhhhh…. Real#Food#Porn.
Now u make sure that in the next couple of days all the unnecessary juices can drain away to cure and dry out the meat.
After 3-5days u can take a bath with your belly. Rinse it in cold water – by now it should be salty enough from inside that we dont need any more salt outside.
U are a lucky person if u have a smoker – especially if u have a massive big one like our huge whole pork belly. Depending on the size of your meat – 3-4hours smoking recuired. After u can cook/steam to finish. But as i said at the beggining – u can add or skip anything else to try.
We needed to make a special smoker. What we had is a small BBQ – good for a start. Make a small fire with carbon to keep the heat going on for long, and get bunches of green herbs (rosmary, tomillo), vegetable off-cuts, spices (coffee, cinnamon, star anise….) to make the smoke itself. We found a 3 level metal stand what we could cover in foil with the belly in the middle and place to the top of the BBQ. If u leave a whole on the bottom and on the top – u can circulate the smoke much more efficiently. Really good fun, we had been really proud of our “home-smoker” invention.
In Hungary we have a huge selection of different “pastrami” of pork belly. Just to show u how many different ways u can choose: (using pork belly from different parts of the animal)
U can just cook it.
U can cook it and smoke it.
U can cook it and season it.
U can cook it, smoke it and season it.
U can just cure it.
U can cure it and scorch it.
U can cure it and smoke it.
U can cure it, smoke it and steam it.
Be brave and creative. Make your own “xarcuteria” and show up in a dinner-party :)))
p.s.: by the end of this story we actually didnt make any “classic pastrami” – but the most beautiful home-smoked pork belly i have ever let melting in my mouth. Chuck a piece on the grill for a minute to heat it up and serve with fresh pastry (please let all the juices being soaked by your bread!!!) :D
Special thanks to my friend Jordi (the not pastry-pastry chef), who was the real brain with me in this project. :D