Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in high heels
Humanity approaches things backwards. I suspect other people feel the same way, so you would think somebody must be doing things frontways, but frontways isn’t even a word. It occurs so rarely, we don’t require a term for it. That should tell us something.
We spend money before we have it, and we fall in lust long before we fall in love. We stay up when we’re tired. We call off work when we’re not sick, and we drag ourselves into work when we should be in the hospital. We would buy cars, even if there were no roads.
When we think of breakfast foods, eggs come immediately to mind. Eggs are where breakfast starts for us. But that’s backwards for cooks. Eggs are the last things to be dealt with. To experienced cooks, eggs are almost an afterthought. We could flip eggs in our sleep. Breakfast the way people like it requires planning. This seems backwards, too because it’s the first meal of the day. Who thinks of tomorrow’s breakfast until, well, tomorrow? Breakfast cooks do, that’s who. This may be one of the reasons so many people go out for breakfast–other than the price. Restaurants have whatever you want for breakfast because they thought about it yesterday.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 Russet potato, processed Sous Vide @183Fx 2 hours.
- 1 whole onion, processed Sous Vide @183Fx 1 hour.
- 7 oz. cured pork belly, scored, and rolled in bread crumbs.
- 2 leftover biscuits, split and fried in butter.
- 2 actual Tablespoons flour.* — 1/3 oz, by WEIGHT.
- 1 Tablespoon butter.
- 1 Cup stock, NO SALT.
- 1/2 cup cream or evaporated milk.
- I know this seems backwards, but, no eggs, but, if there were, we would cook them at the last minute.
*For best results, use an actual Tablespoon measure–not the same as a tablespoon from your silverware drawer.
The first picture in this article is a potato; even though it is the last thing the diner thinks about. Breakfast potatoes need to be cooked and shocked cold the day before service. Even if they’re not prepared sous vide, you can’t make breakfast potatoes out of a hot potato. They should be grated or cubed the day before, too, unless you want to start your day at 3 o’clock in the morning. Breakfast staffing in restaurants is always sparse, because the average sale is so low, and the margin isn’t great either. We imagine an army of elves busily working away in the kitchen, again, backwards. It’s usually 2 or 3 cooks at the MOST. They scramble to get the oatmeal done, and lunch prep started so they don’t get yelled at when the chef shows up, grouchy and wondering when he’s gonna get a day off.
- Other than appearing a little moist on the outside, the potato could almost pass for raw. Sous Vide really is a great way to create the steamed potato effect, because they never fall apart like they do when cooked by traditional methods.
- Make sure it’s cold. Cold. Like 40F.
- Peel. Cooks are taught to take one stroke strips from end to end — chipping away is just too slow.
- I actually prefer hashbrowns, but today we’re making country fries.
- Medium hot griddle. Cast iron is really the best, Teflon is the most popular.
- I put a couple of pats of butter on top, to avoid burning.
Chefs tell cooks “When it’s brown, it’s done. When it’s black, YOU’RE done.”
- Some people try to time everything so it comes out at the same moment. Again, backwards. That is a common misconception about professional cooking. Cooks are ALWAYS looking for ways to AVOID depending on timing. In this case, the best strategy is to put the completed potatoes in a 170F oven. My griddle has a handle, so in it goes, but, don’t put a Teflon pan in the oven…
Sous Vide onion, 183Fx1 hour, then shock!
- Cut off the STEM end, and leave the root end on — that’s your handle, it gives you something to hold on to. Another common mistake.
- Pull the skin back and it will come off of the root pretty easy.
- Slice the onions as thin as possible, without making a big deal out of it. It’s much more important that they are uniform.
- Anywhere from 1/8″ to 1/2″ is fine.
- Put just a few drops of vinegar in the onions to create acidity. Some use lemon juice, buttermilk, whatever, but it really doesn’t matter — you’re going to drain it off.
- Drain it off.
- Toss the onions with flour. Flour is cheap, don’t skimp.
- After a few minutes, you will see them starting to stick together.
- Add some more flour, while you wait for the oil to heat to 350F.
- you can still see a little bit of nakedness, hey, life goes on. Unlike the bread crumb onion rings, this doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Deep fry the rings until very crisp, spread them out on a cookie sheet so they don’t get soggy, and put them in the oven with the potatoes.
- Can you see how impossible it would be to time this all? This is one of the biggest fallacies depicted on Culinary Reality Shows. They make it impossible to actually cook like a professional would — either that, or those shows are fake, and they turn off the cameras while the chefs catch up and have a beer. Hmmm…
- Heat a skillet. Don’t use a cast iron pan this time, because we are going to make a simple sauce from drippings, and cast iron reacts when it comes in contact with water-based liquids. And, not in a good way.
We who are about to fry, salute you!
- Roll your pork belly steak in crumbs. These are crumbs that I made with some dried parsley in them, but you can use store-bought, they work fine.
- One observation; if you make your own crumbs, I STRONGLY recommend that you NOT add garlic powder, cheese, salt, or pepper to them. This is contrary to romantic notions that some people entertain, but those ingredients either gravitate to the bottom of the mixture or change the characteristics of the crust. Don’t fry cheese. Garlic burns.
- Fire the steak on medium heat, hot enough to brown, cool enough to make sure that heat penetrates to the middle.
Come FRY with me, let’s fry, let’s fry…
- There’s a way to weight a piece of meat, and a way NOT to. A little steady pressure is fine for accelerating the heating process. Cooks who put their spatula on top of the burger and squeeeeeeeze it are only removing the juice. We call that SHOEMAKER style.
- You can cut a few scores in the steak ahead of time, or midway through the process if you forgot like I did.
- Cooks frequently want to leave the meat in the pan while they make the sauce. They imagine that the flavors of the sauce will penetrate the steak, but they won’t, the science says so. You can see the steak on the right, on a piece of foil on top of the stove, which is warm. You can also add it to the potatoes or onions that are already in the oven.
- Reduce the heat to medium low.
- Add a pat of butter, which should melt but not start getting brown.
- Add the measured 2 Tablespoons of flour.
- Stir until smooth, I use a wooden spoon. Whips are overrated.
- Add the unseasoned stock, and stir calmly, everything will dissolve, breathe, breathe.
- Add the cream, let it return to simmer, but do not boil excessively, which is another common mistake. Gently, Grasshoppers.
- Taste your sauce, it will need salt for sure. A little Knorr Chicken Base isn’t a crime either. It’s made from chicken.
- Remove the sauce from the pan, and put it in a measuring cup or small pitcher/gravy boat.
Dip a piece of wax paper in the sauce, and see if it sticks to the wall. If it doesn’t, it’s too thin. Just kidding.
- Rinse out the pan, wipe dry, no need to pile a ton of dishes in the sink.
- Split your biscuits in half…
- I make biscuits, but the store-boughts are the same, it’s a biscuit.
- Fry them until brown, and start arranging stuff on the plate.
- First the potatoes and biscuit.
- Yup, that’s what it is, even up close. Buttery.
- Put some gravy on the biscuits
- Slice the steak, and arrange some on top of the biscuits and gravy.
- Arrange some of the onion rings on top.
- I drizzled with some paprika oil and kecap manis for the pic, but there’s no shame in ketchup. I cracked a bottle as soon as I got to the table. Breakfast potatoes like ketchup. Tabasco. All good.
Look, Ma, NO EGGS!
- Here’s a little teaser for an upcoming post. That’s a poached egg that was shocked cold, breaded, and deep fried, it has a soft center.
- There’s a strip of bacon underneath it, some Butter lettuce, and Pan de Higo, a Spanish fig cake with fennel and Sherry.
- Couple of Olives in there, a little EVOO.
What’s not to love?