Tag Archives: pernil

Bacon-wrapped Mac & Cheese Parcels

For someone trying to eat low-sodium, I talk a lot about bacon.

This time around, it’s because we threw a wedding shower for a guy I work with and decided on the over-arcing theme of bacon.

I decided to make these tasty (and fattening, oh so fattening) finger foods a couple of times – once as a practice run and the second time for real. Photos are from both rounds.

2013-08-07 18.38.31To start:
1. 1 package bacon
2. 1 package pre-made/refrigerated mac & cheese. (I would highly recommend using homemade or creamy store-bought mac & cheese; the tiny noodles in Kraft mac & cheese seem like they would dry out very quickly.
3. Toothpicks

 

 

4. Baking sheet (with edges and, I recommend, tin foil)
5. Cooling rack (metal so you can put it in the oven, keeps the bacon bites from stewing in their own fatty juices.)

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Step 1:
Separate pieces of bacon out from one another.
Slice each piece in two
Lay crosswise on the plate.
(So, you’d cut each pictured strip of bacon in half, and lay them in “x”‘s.)
Step 2:
Plop some mac & cheese into the center of the two pieces. Not too much. You really don’t need much. Maybe a teaspoon.

Step 3:
Fold the four ends of bacon up around the mac & cheese, and spear them through with toothpicks. I was able to get it down to two toothpicks in best-case scenarios, but if you have to use more don’t worry about it. This is just to hold the parcel together till the bacon cooks into its shape.

Step 4:
Repeat until you have used up all the bacon and mac & cheese.

Step 5:
Put in oven (follow directions on bacon package for heat setting). It will probably take between 20-30 minutes to cook, but go by sight, because my oven isn’t very good.

Capture

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Step 6:
Let cool for a little while once it’s out of the oven.

Step 7:
Devour.

bite2013-08-07 19.53.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more about delicious things I make from pigs:

 

 

 

 

 

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Butchery, Part I: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This…

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A few weeks ago, I went to Boston and had a lesson in how to butcher a pig. Not exactly what you’d expect from this city girl, right?

But we’ll begin at the beginning, and it started because of pernil.

A friend shared some of her mother-in-law’s with me the week after a major holiday, several years ago. It was melt-in-your-mouth awesome. A while after that, I ran into a recipe on reddit, and a few months after that I made my own low-sodium version with pork shoulder from that great foodie mecca of Western New York, Wegman’s.

Flash forward to mid-January, 2013. Walking through a nearby grocery store, I spotted pork shoulder for the first time in a Manhattan supermarket. (Trader Joe’s doesn’t seem to carry this particular cut of meat.) Unlike the pork shoulder at Wegman’s, though, this was the real deal: bone in, skin on – the shoulder of a pig. Six pounds of pig shoulder.

2013-01-13 16.32.25Thinking back to the pernil, I got excited, and paid eight bucks for a lump of meat the size of my head. Headed home, tried to fit the thing in the crock pot – ready to try making BBQ’d pulled pork, this time…and it wouldn’t fit.

I had to cut it in half, first.

I’ve never cut through pig skin before, and it says something about me that this may have been the first time I’ve ever had such a, erm, close relationship with a piece of meat that wasn’t poultry. By the time I got half the pork shoulder severed and the other half back in the fridge, I was starting to wonder whether I’d ever be able to eat bacon again.

But I kept going. The pork stewed in the crock pot for a couple hours. I took occasional pictures. My roommate and I made uneasy jokes about pig skin, humans, eating meat, and the zombie apocalypse.

When the cooking was over, the trouble started.

If you’ve ever cooked extremely fatty meat in a crock pot, you’ll understand when I say I probably shouldn’t have added the BBQ sauce to the mix before cooking the meat. Because I didn’t, the result was a watery mixture of sauce, meat and fatty oils – from both components. That was okay. I got out a couple of forks and started shredding the meat. (Also a bad idea; in retrospect, I should have drained the sauce off first.)

2013-01-13 17.01.53Things were basically cool, up until the moment the fork dragged up a piece of half-melted pig skin, strung together with a couple inches of meat. And maybe a tendon. Or something.

My stomach rolled.

But I kept thinking about the original reddit pernil recipe, specifically the part where he talks about honoring the animal that gave its life so you could eat, and I kept going. Picking out chunks of half-liquified pig skin, trying to scrape the shredded pork off the skin and back into the sauce. I tasted some.

I had not picked a good BBQ sauce. Also, there was still WAY too much fat in the sauce.

2013-01-18 00.32.48I managed to eat a spoonful before I realized this – unlike my famous steak tartar incident by the seine (remind me to blog about that, some time) – was not a culinary battle I could win.

With three pounds of frozen pork shoulder in the freezer, this was going to be a problem.

Luckily, a work friend was talking about making pork tacos the next day, and happy to take the rest of the pork shoulder off my hands. Guilt somewhat alleviated.

But now I had an ethical quandry on my hands, of the low-grade variety prone to plaguing the dietarily privileged: how could I justify eating a meat I couldn’t even prepare myself? It sounds nuts, I know. But it tickled at the back of my head for days following the pork shoulder incident. I’d spent time, recently, talking to hunters. My cousin and his wife (cousin-in-law) ran a free range organic farm back before they got married, and mine is the kind of family where, while we’re all omnivores, we have been known to trade emails asking “Is it ethical to eat meat?”

So when a friend posted on Twitter about a Boston restaurant and the pig-butchery-lesson they were giving away as a contest prize…I entered.

And won.

Which was when I realized: in March, I’d be butchering a pig.

And I had no idea if I was ready for it.

To Be Continued…

Low Sodium Pernil – Reddit Recipe

Some time ago, I saw this recipe for pernil on reddit. Today, I’m giving it a try – with, of course, a low-sodium twist.