Corn Sauce- Amaizing? Give this a try!

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Corn Sauce, I realize that it doesn’t sound that sexy.  However this is one sauce that I turn to a lot in the kitchen for several different uses.  What started as a way to bring one more level of flavor to a dish, has evolved in to something that I keep finding uses for.

Where it began- A few years back I participated in a cooking competition in which I had several weeks to determine what I wanted to prepare. It was simple, four courses with one hour to complete them all.  The menu that I had developed at the establishment I was working at had a really nice sandwich on the menu of smoked trout, and a fried green tomato.  It was served with an herb aioli and was pretty popular on our menu.  I wanted to bring this dish to the competition however I wasn’t going to serve a sandwich.  The flavor combinations were good, however I felt that it needed one more component in order to truly make it special.  So after thinking about what would compliment a fried green tomato and trout on a plate I came to the conclusion that a nice fresh ear of corn would be the perfect compliment to what we were already going to have on the plate.  I knew that I didn’t want the judges to have to pick up an ear of corn or fish after pieces of corn on the plate with their fork, so the only answer was to make a sauce that would bring that flavor and not disturb what I already was going to put on the plate.   This is what I came up with, I hope you give it a try!

 

You can use fresh corn, or frozen corn to make this sauce.  I do not recommend canned corn however.

 

What you will need:

1 One pound bag of frozen corn

1 Carrot cut in large pieces

1 Stalk of Celery cut in large pieces

1/2 Red Onion peeled

2 Cloves of Garlic whole

1/2 Pound of Butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heavy Cream

 

Use a small sauce pot, or large skillet that will comfortably hold all of the ingredients and place it over medium heat.  Keep in mind through this whole process that you do not want to use high heat.  You’re just trying to extract flavors and bring them together.  Tying to speed up the process with high heat will not help you with the end product in any way.

Place the butter in the skillet that you’re going to use and when it begins to melt pour in the corn, and add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and season everything with salt and pepper.  Give everything a good stir and just let it come to a simmer.  This may take some time, but it is worth the wait.  Once a simmer is reached, give everything a good stir again and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let the skillet set and cool to room temperature.

Remove the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic and spoon the corn in to a blender.  You want all of the corn, and butter in the blender and then blend on high, add a small amount of heavy cream in order to reach the consistency that you want.  Let the blender run on high until the sauce is smooth.  Turn off the blender and taste the sauce, adjust seasoning as needed.  Depending on the application I am going to use the sauce for I will pour it in to a strainer and allow it to drain through.  Most generally I will just use it as is.

In the end you will have a very flavorful sauce that brings a really strong corn flavor to several different applications.

Uses:

Roasted Garlic and Cumin Pork Loin

Grilled Pork Chops (Pictured above)

Fried Green Tomato and Smoked Trout

As an accompaniment to a Black Bean, Red Onion Salad- just toss with the salad and you have a south west treat

Stirred in to Polenta just as it is about to be finished cooking, This makes the Polenta a star on the plate, not an afterthought.

These are all things that I have used this sauce for.  And each time it is received very well.  Corn Sauce may not sound like something earth shattering, however if your goal is to bring flavor to the plate then you should certainly give this a try.

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To the plate : Poitrine de Porc (Braised Pork Belly)

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Pork belly is one of life’s simple pleasures if you ask me and, if prepared correctly has a lot of cooking lessons that can be used when cooking just about anything. Braising is one of my favorite cooking methods to use, and this dish shows how it can transform something in to one of the best things you will ever consume.

First things first, realize and accept that if you want to enjoy this dish the way it should be enjoyed you’re going to have to have some patience. And you will have to pay attention to some details as well. But if you do, the payoff makes the wait “oh so worth it”.

We recently ran this as a dinner special at one of the restaurant’s. So I will walk through the steps that we took to prepare it. 

Day one:
We started with the following:
The pork belly
Mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery)
Whole garlic cloves
White wine (we used chardonnay)
Chicken stock
A few bay leaves
Fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)
And of course salt and pepper

We roughly chopped the mirepoix and placed it in the bottom of a large pan to form a flavorful layer of protection for the pork belly while it braised.  Once we had a even layer of mirepoix on the bottom of the pan we tossed a few garlic cloves, the bay leaves, and the seasoned everything well with salt and pepper. 
Then we placed the pork belly right in the center of the pan, skin side up and put the fresh herbs around the side of the belly. Now it was time for the braising liquid. We poured about a half a bottle of white wine in the pan and then chicken stock until the belly was covered. 
After everything was in the pan we used parchment paper to cover the pan and then sealed it up using aluminum foil. Take care to make sure everything is sealed well.
We then placed it in a 250 degree oven for six hours.  When it was finished cooking we removed it from the oven and placed it on the counter to allow it to come to room temperature. It is crucial that you do not break the seal of the foil during this time.  You want all of the steam, liquid, and flavor to stay in the pan. 
After it has came to room temperature place another pan on top of the sealed pan, and then put large cans of food in to that pan in order to “press” the pork belly.  This will press out all of the “bad” fat. Then put everything as is into the refrigerator over night.

Day two:
We removed the weighted pan from the refrigerator and place it on the counter.  Removed the top pan, and then the foil.

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At this point we had a cutting board ready to set the pork belly on, and carefully clean the pork belly off of herbs and vegetables that were stuck to it.

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We transferred the belly to the cutting board and cut it in to the serving size portions. We trimmed the belly to make it in to a large square, then cut six ounce portions for service.
Once we had everything cut the way we wanted then we carefully removed the skin (and set aside) from the top of each piece. And allowed everything to come to room temperature before cooking them.
Using a very sharp knife we cut the skin in to very thin strips, it is very important that they are as thin as you can possibly cut them.

To cook for service:

Heat a skillet and add some canola oil to it.  You want the skillet and oil to be hot, but not to the point of smoking before you put the portion in to cook.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and place it in the skillet laying on the side that used to have the skin on it first.  Just let it cook and brown on this side until it is golden brown, and is somewhat crisp. Then turn it over in the skillet and immediately place it in a 350 degree oven for about five to six minutes.

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At this point we dropped five or six pieces of the skin in to a deep fryer and let them cook for a minute or two.  When their ready they will float, and you don’t want them to become black

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We used this as a garnish for the dish, and its such a wonderful treat.

The finished product was served with fresh kale (that we cooked in butter and chicken stock), tomato concasse and a Ancho Bourbon sauce.

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The result was one of the most memorable dishes I have ever put together.  The pork belly was so tender and flavorful that you couldn’t wait to take the next bite.  The greens provided a perfect complement to the richness of the meat, the crunch of the crispy skin brought wonderful flavor and a nice contrast in texture and the sauce gave you just a little spice if you wanted to drag a bite through it. 
I’m as proud of this dish as anything I have put on a plate in any restaurant I have worked in.  And I look forward to preparing it again in the future.