Pork and Pasta

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COMMENT

There's a specific word that, when I spy it on menus, always gets my juices flowing. And while it's overused a little these days and used inappropriately at times, I still get excited and just a little hungrier than normal when I see the word, "confit". I love foods that have been prepared this way. From Tetsuya's confit of ocean trout to a good old-fashioned duck confit, there's something simply satisfying about tucking into something that's been slow-cooked in fat and oils until it becomes soft and tender. Last week, S and I were on something of a confit kick. We decied to each make a confit dish. She worked on a quartet of duck legs while I tried out a recipe I've been dying to make for months, Justin Quek's pork neck confit.

The pork neck confit was a breeze to make. Marinating the pork neck takes just a few minutes; you then leave it alone for a half-day or so. The cooking process takes just an hour, after which you leave the pork alone while it cools. The only thing to watch out for is making sure the oil in which you are cooking the pork stays at a constant temperature (of 90 degrees Celsius). Store the pork for a day or so before eating. You can eat it as is, or slice it up and grill or fry it lightly.

The pork confit was delicious. S and I devoured it over 2 meals, one with friends and one by ourselves. We had it both times with pasta. The first time we made a super-simple but super-tasty dish. We tweaked a great recipe from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen for "Garlicky noodles with Maggi and butter". I'm not sure how many of you out there have cooked with or eaten foods with Maggi Seasoning sauce, but those of you who have will appreciate its umami savoriness. We added our pork confit and a fried egg to Ms Nguyen's easy-to-make recipe and created one helluva great comfort dish. For our friends, we made an awesome pork neck confit carbonara with a truffled pasta that we had surprisingly found at the Cold Storage in Raffles City (pictured at the top of the post). I love a good carbonara and the use of the confit in place of the usual pancetta made this a really rich and delicious dish.

As said, the pork neck confit was easy to make. It's delicious and versatile. I liked it so much that I've already bought another kilo of pork neck to make a fresh batch. This is something I plan on always having in my fridge.

Pork neck confit

1 kilogram pork neck

15 grams salt

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3 bay leaves, crushed

1 sprig of thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 litre olive oil

1 litre grapeseed oil

Make the pork confit ahead of time. Clean and dry the pork neck. Season it by rubbing it with salt, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper. Wrap the pork neck with cling film and refrigerate it for a minimum of 12 hours.

Heat the olive and grapeseed oils in a pot that is able to accommodate the pork neck. Maintain the temperature of the blend of oils at 90 degrees Celsius. Scrape the marinade off the pork, but do not wash it. Place the pork in the oil and cook it for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, turn off the heat and leave the pork to cool in the oil. Transfer the pork and the oil to a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep it sealed and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days before using it. This allows the flavours to develop.

Pork Neck Confit Truffled Fettucine Carbonara

Serves 4 as appetizers

1/2 pound fettuccine

300g pork neck confit, chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons white wine

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolks

1 cup grated parmesan

1 tablespoon Tetsuya Truffle Salsa

salt and pepper

Beat the egg and egg yolks in a bowl large enough to accomodate the pasta later. Add the parmesan and a bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Fry the pork neck confit with the olive oil. When almost done, add the white wine and let simmer for a minute or so. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente in salted water. When ready, drain and quickly toss into the egg and parmesan mix. Stir until the sauce is slightly cooked. Stir in the truffle salsa. Then toss in the hot pork confit and stir again. Serve immediately.

Garlicky noodles with Maggi, butter, pork neck confit and fried egg

Serves 4 as appetizers

1/2 pound fettuccine

salt

2. 5 Tablespoons Maggi Seasoning Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

300g pork neck confit, sliced into thin pieces

4 eggs

Put the Maggi in a bowl large enough to later accomodate the pasta. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and put in the bowl with the Maggi sauce. Use tongs to toss the noodles until the noodles absorb the sauce. In a 12 inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When it foams, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the noodles and stir, using tongs or chopsticks. Spread the noodles out, increase the heat to medium-high and let the noodles cook undisturbed for a minute. Give the noodles a good stir and repeat the searing one or two more times. Meanwhile, quickly grill the pork neck confit slices and fry the eggs sunny-side up. Serve the pasta immediately, topping each portion with the pork slices and a fried egg.