Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Sunday evening ribs…

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While down at my folks’ place yesterday, my father pointed out in the Target ad how cheap pork back ribs were: $1.79/lb. There was a limit of six racks per person, so I went with and we came back with 12. Four racks got cut into thirds and seasoned with Kosher salt, cracked peppercorns, cumin, cayenne and garlic salt. Into the smoker they went for about five hours with a little sauce basting from Big Boned Barbeque for the last 30 minutes. Baked potato, beans and a salad made for a wonderful sunday night with some of the neighbor “kids” from Sugar Valley – I don’t know why I say kids, we’re all old enough to drink. Sorry I couldn’t get any pics of the finished meal; cameras and barbeque don’t go together very well. But trust me, the table looked great!

I met the guys from Big Boned last year at Rib America in Des Moines and got along fabulously with them. (Thanks again for letting us use your oven to bake our beans!) Get a hold of Pat Nelson at Big Boned Barbeque to order a bottle or two for yourself and to see if their professional team of BBQ artists will be rollin’ into your city. And when ya see them, tell ’em Boonie sent ya!


Farewell Dinner- Phat Chefs

It was time to leave. My car was packed, my dad had flown in from LA to help me drive back home. It was that time. In suitable fashion I had to go out with a culinary bang, so I emailed Hal Jasa, the chef at Phat Chef’s Restaurant in Des Moines and asked him to come up with the freshest, most seasonal, most “Iowa” meal he could. I am so happy to say that he excelled in every way, shape and form. The meal was absolutely amazing, nearly 100% local and just as fresh as can be.


I knew that we were in good hands when he greeted us upon entering and said that he was busy figuring out what to do with some Morel mushrooms which his friends had just brought in. With that, he left for the kitchen and we sat down, and awaited our appetizers.

Talk about seasonal! Hal did a delicious, simple and utterly stunning appetizer of grilled asparagus and ramps (baby green onions) which he paired with a delicious romesco sauce, which was made with almonds and red peppers.


You can almost see the little bits of sea salt, which popped deliciously in your mouth. The asparagus was done perfectly; a little black on the outside (as it should be!) but not too much so.


The romesco sauce was great as well. The roasted red peppers gave it a wonderful color. In addition the plating of all the dishes of the night was great. Stuck in the middle of the romesco you can see two chive blossoms, which gave it a wonderful “spring” appearance.


Just look at that gorgeous ramp! The nice thing about having the entire ramp was that each part- from the white bulb to the wonderfully crisp green at the top-had a distinct flavor and texture.

For this culinary escapade I was joined by JIm Duncan, my dad and my uncle. We had a great time chatting over the appetizer and were salivating by the time the next course hit the table.


Once again, Hal dazzled with a delicious “new potato” vichyoissie with smoked trout. This dish was also very pure- it had a unity of effect- simply potato and trout. The potatoes natural flavor was not overly disguised by cream, as can sometimes be done in this dish. The fact that it was a vichyoissie and therefore cold really made the point that warmer weather and spring was on the way.


In the middle a chive blossom held court. I chose to eat it, and relished the resulting oniony flavor which erupted.

For the main course, Hal really out did himself. After the first two AMAZING courses I had expected greatness, but not at this level.


On the bottom left we have some pan seared coral mushrooms. Upper left were some fresh and FRESH morels, and at the right is a huge piece of pork.

Both mushrooms were just perfect, but very different. The coral mushrooms, as I said, had been pan seared so they had a great cispy side which mellowed in the stem, as they became more “done”. However, the natural flavor of the mushroom really came out in both preparations. They had not been dolled up.

The pork was straight up amazing. I had met Hal at Cochon 555, so I knew he would be throwing everything he had at the pork. If I remember correctly, he had made a applewood smoked pork confit- he had smoked the pork, and then rubbed it down and turned it into a confit. He then warmed it up and served it.

Well, it was amazing. What was truly stunning was that a very involved preparation did not mask the flavor of the pork shoulder; the same could be said for everything Hal created. Everything was very true to the ingredients; every cooking method only drew more attention to the wonderfully fresh ingredients, all of which had been foraged by friends (the mushrooms, ramps, asparagus and rhubarb) or was local (the pork).


And you know, it was pretty good. And by that I mean amazing. But we still weren’t done! Coming off the main course, with two types of absolutely fresh and amazing mushrooms and the pork (which was probably the most amazing pork shoulder I have ever had) I didn’t know HOW desert could match.

Little did I know Hal had a rhubarb crisp with vanilla bean ice cream waiting in the wings,


Hell yes that rhubarb crisp was as good as it looks. Hot-steaming hot- of of the oven, the ice cream soon melted all over the crust, oozing into the rhubarb filling, which was neither too sweet nor too tart.

This was an amazing meal, and I must give credit fully to Hal. He created a meal that was strikingly true to its ingredients. He utilized his not inconsiderable culinary prowess to enhance- not disguise- the simple delectability of the ingredients. Bravo!