Tl;DR We turn to movies for inspiration this week! Inspired by The Wizard of Oz comes my “The Yellow Brick Road” dish. We cover my passion for film/tv, rendering fat, and plating in this post.


Final Recipe: The Yellow Brick Road – Potato Confit, Barley Risotto, Seared Pork Loin, and Fig Sauce.

Inspiration

I am a big film and tv buff, with an affliction much like David Foster Wallace’s “TV Addition”. On one hand, watching a film or tv is like being a part of a moment of time that you were never and will never be able to experience yourself; you get to explore new lands or places, meet exotic girls,  and defeat villains plaguing the world. Some movies are cathartic, some offer comic relief, and others will get you to think and question.  On the other hand, tv and movies can be a form of escape, instead of just experiencing that moment, you can be drawn into the characters and world, transforming  simple entertainment into a vicarious experience–a fine line I often cross. Maybe more on that another day.

Development/Concept

Given my passion for movies/tv I felt a high pressure to execute this inspiration properly. I started searching of iconic movies that would be a great start. My first choice was actually Pulp Fiction but I wasn’t satisfied with my pseudo-Kahuna burger rendition so I starting look for another choices. In a moment of spontaneity I come to the Wizard of Oz. Immediately I know that I could create the road, which would be a central part of the dish, using potatoes.

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With that base in mind I started looking for other aspects to incorporate. Given the setting of the movie, I was looking for fairly rustic preparations and chose to focus on “The Journey” of the story: the road and the characters along the road.

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Lion – Loin cut. It had to be. Either a long braised cut of loin (roast) or a loin chop that could be seared.

Scarecrow – Some type of grain, yellow. Barley came first to mind and I ran with it.

Tin-man – this guy was tricky for me. Metallic taste isn’t something that you usually enjoy and silver isn’t commonly used other than as a topping in meals. So I turned to the Tin-man’s oil. Some type of black oil (squid) or a sauce (like blackberry). I chose fig as I love the flavor of fig, it will go well to cut some of the fat and add some sweetness to the dish.

And you, the person eating the dish, are obviously Dorothy.

Other aspects that I ended up not including were a forest (mint or basil oil) and the emerald city (mint jelly).

Open decisions:

Potatoes: Bricks or overlapping? Overlapping slices would be easy but in the pictures the road is bricks so I went with this.

Flavor Profile

Taste – Potatoes will be rich with the flavor of fat, pork will be umami/caramelization taste, fig sauce will be sweet and sour, and barley will be creamy and garlicky.

Mouthfeel – Lots of contrast of textures. mainly warm.

Aroma – garlic, grain, pork

X-factor- a very rustic feeling rendition of a classic movie, on a plate

Mock-Up

Refer to journal entries above for the ideas I was playing with.

Research

I couldn’t find duck fat anywhere, which I wanted to use to make the potato confit, so I had to render my own pork fat. There are a few techniques to this: a hot or oil render on a pot over medium heat (fast, messy, inaccurate, doesn’t produce longevity), rendering in water (slower, inaccurate), pressure canning (least messy and great yield, but need proper equipment) or Sous Vide (slow, not messy, low yield).

Since I was balancing other preparations, the sous vide choice is what I settled on so that it could be a passive preparation.

Recipe/Testing

Ingredients:

  • Pork Fat
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Red Wine/Balsamic Vinegar
  • Figs
  • Rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pork Loin
  • Sugar
  • Chicken Stock
  • Barley
  • Cayenne

Equipment:

Pork Fat

Chop fat and Sous Vide at 88 C for 4 hours.

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Barley

Cook garlic in butter over medium heat. Add barley and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock cup by cup periodically into the pan until cooked to desired level. (20-30 min). Mix in fresh dill, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

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Fig Sauce

Chop figs and cook over medium heat with Rosemary, Wine, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, and Water.

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Emulsion blend and strain.

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Potatoes

Use a mandolin to to get rectangular bricks of potatoes.

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Add rendered pork fat, salt, and pepper, and sous vide at 85 C for 1 hour.

Pork Loin

Brine in a 7% Salt and 3% Sugar water solution for 2 hours.

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Before brine:

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After brine (noticeably bigger):

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Rinse. Then Sous Vide at 60 C for 1 hour.

Pat dry to remove outside moisture and sear using preferred method.

Execution

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Post-Game Analysis

  • A touch too much rosemary in the fig sauce, some of the figs were still a bit raw and didn’t have too much flavor; didn’t make enough fig sauce which worked will with the strong flavor
  • First time working with barley, not sure what is the correct level of chewiness/doneness; need to experiment with timings; BUT barley is on my list of amazing ingredients–that nutty chewiness is amazing.
  • Never was a big fan of pork loin, while brining and Sous Vide brought out a great tasting chop, still not a big fan of the mild flavor and overall look of the loin cut