It’s been quite the week here, as the Black Hat Chefs were going full throttle with our new “Discovery Sessions.” While most of the world was celebrating “Shark Week,” in our kitchens we were celebrating “Pork Week.” That’s right, from the very start of the week, it’s been all pork, all day, everyday.
It all started with our very first batch of Capicola . In the New York and New Jersey region where I’m from, you will most likely hear this pronounced “Gabagool”, but I’ve learned that here in North Carolina it’s actually spelled out. Say it as you choose, but this dry cured cold cut is from the pork shoulder, with a slightly spicy flavor profile. As of now, it’s in the brine, and will it be ready to slice for sandwiches and lunch specials by the first week of November of this year.
Next up was two cases of pork belly that came in, we decided to use in our Discovery Sessions. As you can see below, our Director Jim McGrody is just about to hang some Pancetta in the cooler. This will be ready soon, as it brined throughout the week, and will air dry for another 15 days. I’m feeling like this will be making its way on top of some of our pizzas in just a couple of weeks!
Next up, it was time for Porchetta. This was inspired by a friend of mine Chef Jason O’Toole from Cape Cod. Jason and I worked side by side while attending the CIA, and his passion for good food and classic culinary technique was always inspiring to me. Jason now owns a very successful artisan pizza place in Hyannis, Massachusetts called Pizza Barbone, and frequently posts pictures on his Facebook page of his Porchetta, a pork loin which has been wrapped in pork belly, then slowly roasted. It always looks so good, I was excited to do it here in the hospital as a special in the cafe. Below you can see the process of prepping it, as well as the end result, which was served in our cafe with a classic Marsala sauce, which I was able to make by capturing some of the pan drippings from the roasting process. Thanks Jay for the inspiration on this, it was awesome!
If you are thinking that we are done… your wrong, as curing our own bacon is also in the works. This four day cure was done with a mix of Kosher salt, brown sugar, black pepper, juniper berries, thyme, garlic, and molasses. This is now air drying in the cooler as I write this, as it will be smoked very low and slow in the morning.
To finish out the week, Chef Skip in the Courtyard Cafe was serving braised pork cheeks, served with our very own homemade sauerkraut and perogies. This dish was awesome, as they were done just right especially with the addition of whole grain mustard and carmelized apples. Check it out!
So now that I’ve shared everything about Pork Week here in the hospital, it’s back to my house so I can continue watching Shark Week with my son! Always celebrating the new direction of “Hospital Food”, New School Style.