Last night, I was reading a book in which famous U.S. chefs were asked the “desert island question”. You know the one – if you were stranded on a desert island…
For the chefs: “If you were stranded on a desert island, what ten food items would you want to have with you.” Some chefs were practical – various beans and seeds that could be harvested or they included two animals, Noah-like, to ensure a constant supply. Others leaned towards the whimsical – champagne, caviar and blinis…if you’re going to be stranded, might as well do it in style. For me:
- Pork – bacon, pork belly, braised pork shoulder, ham, shank, trotter, jowl – yum!
- Cheese – do I need to select just one kind or can I bring the assortment basket?
- Wine – the elixir of life.
- Pasta – if including a starch, I would grow tired of rice or potatoes before pasta.
- Olive Oil – the best for cooking and good for you, too!
- Lemons – …or butter, decisions decisions.
- Sugar – for my gargantuan sweet tooth.
- Onions – the best for building and imparting flavor.
- Tomatoes – to be enjoyed raw, roasted or sun dried.
- Cinnamon – I wanted to bring thyme, but with room for only one spice, I decided on cinnamon, which I use in my savories as well as sweets.
Most of the chefs included “salt” (it was the #1 item selected). I’m on a desert island – surrounded by salt water. I’ll harvest my own.
Looking at these items, like peering into the refrigerator on a Wednesday night, I ask myself, “what could I make?” My first thought would be to crisp some bacon and remove it from the pan. From there, I would sear the pork belly in the rendered bacon fat, add onions, sauté, and add a bit of cinnamon. I would deglaze the pan with a good douse of wine, add tomatoes, some lemon zest and put the bacon back in the pan. I’d return the pork belly to the pan for a long, slow, fall-apart braise. I’d serve the braised pork and unctuous sauce over pasta with a dollop of goat cheese for brightness and a large glass of wine. Care to join me?