Rachael and her two lizard-catchers (my hiking-buddy granddaughters) showed up at the house for a visit and Rachael prepared a deferred Father's Day meal for me that was absolutely incredible. She spent a good part of the day in the kitchen hammering and pounding and cutting for what she promised me would be something I've never had before.
First, she had a stone dish and stone pestle that she was mashing up all kinds of ingredients in, including garlic, ginger, lemongrass, Thai chili and turmeric. I took a snitch out of the stone dish and nearly cleared my sinuses, very strong stuff. She put this mixture in a hot frying pan and got the ingredients sweating their potions into each other for one of the stronger concoctions I've ever tasted. After getting what she could out of the lemongrass, she tossed it, but the remainder of the ingredients were used to stuff two large slabs of pork belly she obtained from a Korean market.
|Roasted pork belly, stuffed with a Balinese herb concoction.|
|You would never guess that this stuffing has such potent power.|
The inspiration for this came from a Balinese cooking class she and Nate had on a recent trip to Bali in Indonesia. This mixture was used to stuff a suckling pig, and as suckling pig was not readily available, pork belly was substituted. She bound the stuffing inside the rolled up pork belly using twine and roasted it in the oven for several hours.
|A slice complete with rind and stuffing.|
I do not have words to describe how utterly greasy, crispy, succulent, spicy, moist, savory and flavorful this was. The outer rind was so crisp it was hard to chew, but I managed and enjoyed every bite. Then a slice into the tender, tender, fatty, buttery pork belly infused with this rocket-launch fuel mixture of spicy ingredients made for a an explosive bite of a mixture of tastes. I found that just a little bit of the stuffing with each bite of pork belly gave the perfect spice to the perfect fatty, juicy piece of pork belly.
|I like this picture because it conveys how utterly greasy and moist it was.|
Rachael tweeted a picture of this out to her world of foodie friends and got a response from some famous Iron Chef person. It was Iron Chef good.
Next Rachael pulled off the real surprise of the meal. Out came some beautiful elk bones, some sawed in half lengthwise, and some with the entire bone intact. Rachael's neighbor shot an elk in the Utah elk hunt and she got the elk bones from him. She'd previously shared some elk head cheese with me he'd made which was great, but here in all their grandeur and beauty were the savory roasted halved bones and the sous vide whole bones, full of moist and fatty elk marrow goodness. If you've ever experienced the joy of eating a slice of lamb or beef with a nice cross-section of bone full of marrow and plunked that warm fatty marrow into your mouth, with a little bit of added salt, you know what a nirvana experience it is. Then to see that quantity of bone marrow increased exponentially is about all that a person can handle without breaking down and sobbing for joy.
|Rachael and the whole elk marrow bones.|
|Both the whole marrow bones and the sliced marrow bones. Almost enough to make a grown man cry.|
You will notice thus far that the fat quotient has been set quite high. So, of course, Rachael had to add something healthy to the mix. But even though healthy, it was very good as well. She prepared sambal matah, a Balinese raw shallot and lemongrass relish which I put on the jasmine rice she prepared. The sambal matah was another spicy piece of dynamite. I had three small servings of rice with healthy additions of sambal matah. I normally don't eat rice, a testament to how good the sambal matah was. Finally, she made Balinese mixed vegetables, a dish she called sayur urab. It was great, but let's be serious, when you have elk marrow bones and roasted stuffed pork belly next to it, the vegetables are like kissing your sister.
|The combo plate of roasted pork belly, elk marrow bones, sambal mutah on rice and Balinese roasted vegetables.|
So many, many thanks to my beautiful daughter who knows how to cook like a dervish knows how to whirl. It was truly a memorable and wonderful Father's Day meal.