First off I'd like to state that it's actually not my fault that I keep returning to my beloved pork for these Top Chef recipes. As I comb through this season's recipe files I'm actually amazed that I didn't notice just how often the chefs (not just Kevin) were working with the delicious pig. The recipes involving pork also tend to be the ones that seem most accessible to the home cook.
So there, I'm not being biased....not totally anyways.
For this week's experiment I wanted to take on another of the elimination challenge winners. So Michael Voltaggio's lettuce wrapped, asian influenced braised pork was calling my name.
I love a good lettuce wrap. And this one was definitely not a disappointment. I loved every bite of it.
Once again I found myself questioning some of the individual components of the dish (specifically the glaze for the pork) but when everything came together it was perfection.
I should really just suck it up, admit that my palate is inferior and stop questioning the professionals!
Michael's recipe called for smoked slab bacon which, damn small town shopping, I could not find on that particular day, so I used a piece of smoked pork shoulder instead. Yummy!
The crushed peanuts with cayenne and ginger were a delicious topping. I'm not a big fan of ginger but paired with the cayenne it was created a beautiful boost to the roasted peanut flavour.
I ate so many of these wraps! I love a dish you can just put out and allow people to put together as they choose. It's definitely one I will be keeping in my reserves.
Without further ado I give you:
Braised Pork with Soy Mustard Sauce and Peanuts
(adapted from Michael Votaggio's Top Chef recipe on bravotv.com)
1 1/2 lb. piece smoked pork shoulder
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 onion sliced
1 carrot diced
2 sticks celery chopped
3/4 gallon water
1/2 quart soy sauce
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/8 cup yellow mustard
1/8 cup ginger powder
1/2 cup roasted peanuts crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Indian style mango chutney
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Score the skin of the pork shoulder creating cross cuts along the surface.
Heat sesame oil in large, deep oven safe dish or pot.
Sear the pork skin side down in sesame oil until browned.
Flip pork over and add vegetables to pot.
Add water and 1/2 the amount of powdered ginger.
Cover with foil and place in oven for 2 hours.
While pork is cooking mix soy sauce, mustards, honey, mango chutney, remaining powdered ginger and 1/2 quart water.
Bring to simmer and allow to reduce for 20 minutes.
Add cornstarch and water mixture a little at a time to thicken liquid to a glaze.
When pork has cooked, remove from braising liquid and brush with glaze.
Slice pork into thin pieces.
Mix crushed peanuts with cayenne and ginger powder to taste.
Separate leaves of romaine.
Place slices of pork in romaine leaf.
Spoon more glaze over top.
Sprinkle peanuts on top.
I served everything as pictured, with a bowl of the glaze on the side to add as wanted. Casual, delicious dining.