So I am not a football fan. It's not that I dislike it. I'm more just... indifferent to it. That said, we had a Superbowl party again this year. Superbowl parties are fun because they represent an excuse to make three or four small plates - something that is generally impractical, even on weekends. This particular Superbowl party was special, though. Even if the Giants missed the chance to beat the Patriots again, it was me versus the pork belly slider in the kitchen. Last year, I braised the pork belly for way too long. All the fat rendered off, leaving a handful of scorched, adamantine splinters of flesh. This was my year of redemption, and I won!
The strategy turned out to be incredibly simple: pork belly is supposed to be fat. When you let the pork belly be pork belly it melts into a delectable bite amid its bed of coleslaw and brioche, and this recipe from Food Republic comes into its own. I made a few modifications to account for ingredients I didn't have. For example, I used white sesame seeds only , instead of white and black sesame seeds. Since I only took things away I suggest making it to original recipe, because it can only be better than what was already a juicy burst of sweet and sour porcine deliciousness.
Although the sliders were the clear MVP, a couple of other plates stood out as well. Along with the sliders, I also made chicken tacos and mini-reubens.
8 corn tortillas (unless people like double tortillas)
8 - 10 leaves butterhead lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, diced
6 - 8 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 lime, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
This recipe is simple but it packed a lot of flavor. The key to the flavor is a very long marinade. In this case I let it go more than 24 hours. When I was ready to prepare the legs, I dried them off with paper towels and then browned them on all sides in some safflower oil. I preserved the marinade, separating the solids from the liquid. When the thighs were thoroughly browned, I removed them and then sauteed the onion and garlic from the marinade. When the onions were translucent, I added the marinade liquid and the thighs.
I love reubens. They are probably one of my top five--maybe even top three--favorite foods. Perhaps the best reuben I have ever had was from Friedman's Lunch in Chelsea Market. I could wax poetic about that particular melty bundle of buttery joy, but I'll save that for another post. Needless to say, my love for the perfect reuben meant my expectations were set impossibly high.
Friedman's makes theirs with pastrami, which according to Wikipedia should technically be called a "Rachel," since a reuben is made with corned beef. I like both, so for this attempt I used corned beef.
3/4 lb. thin sliced corned beef
1/4 lb. sliced swiss cheese
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1/2 loaf of rye bread
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp horseradish (from a jar)
1 Tbsp sriracha
No mysteries here. If you get good ingredients the sandwich will be good. All you have to do is make sure that everything is sufficiently warmed to dissolve into a rich, juicy rhapsody on the tongue. I combined the mayo, parsley, horseradish and sriracha to make the dressing. Then I used two skillets, one to warm the corned beef and melt the cheese, and one to grill the bread. For each sandwich I used about an ounce of corned beef and a half-ounce of cheese. I layered the corned beef by folding each piece on itself in the skillet, then topped with the cheese. For the bread I liberally buttered one side each of two slices, and grilled in the skillet until crispy and golden-brown. I'm sure you can figure out the rest from there - hey, it's a sandwich! While it didn't compare to Friedman's, it was good enough to proudly wear the moniker "reuben."