Crooked Polaroid of me in front of one tray of the 400 pieces of braised pork belly and bacon tamales I made for the Bacon Take-Down. With some help from Courtney, Erin and Emjo.
Mitch and Brandon contemplate ending it after looking at the line in front of them.
Thirty competitors went all out for some impressive and not so impressive creations. I’m pointing to you tamale dude, who had them made for him by somone in Spanish Harlem. Boo.
And farewell to a night of hardwork and fun times.
So let’s go back in time two months ago. I was hard at work perusing the internets, when my girlfriend asked if I wanted to go to the Chili-Takedown…yeah, sounds good. I didn’t make it there, but she showed me pictures of what went down. A week or so later, she sends me another link to something called the Bacon-Takedown. I entered figuring it would be full-up by the time I responded, but alas, no, the venerable and always eccentric Matt Timms emailed me quickly on what the contest entailed.
Skip forward a month and I didn’t have a dish for the contest…for shame. What could I make that was affordable (each contestant has to provide 300 bites) and at the same time different (**ha! we’ll get to that), than everyone elses?
It came to me so fast one day that I called everyone I could think, much to their annoyance. Tamales, bacon tamales. And not just bacon, inside the tamales was going to be pork belly, that wonderful precursor to the bacon we so enjoy. And studded throughout the masa, for the traditionalist were perfect pieces of bacon bits (homemade mind you.)
So a couple of nights ago, I did my test run. Everything came out like I wanted it to, but there were some overall truths about them I think I can fix. 1. They were a bit dry. 2. The pork belly was a bit tough. 3. There needed to be a sauce over it.
So fair enough, I’ve got plans for the winning batch, and we shall see what happens this Sunday, March 29 at 5 pm at the Radegast Beerhall in Brooklyn, New York.
**This just in, while reading the three page spread on the Bacon-Takedown and all things bacon in The New York Post, I found that a one Jennifer Sanders, 32, of the Upper East Side is making “bacon tamales” with three kinds of bacon. And to Jennifer Sanders, all I can say is, I don’t know how close the Upper East Side is to Mexico, but I do know Texas is closer. You’re going down.
On with the pics.
Ah yes, pork belly slow braised with good spices and ish
Success, the bacon is totally studed throughout the masa..which was also made with lard….yum.
looka here, itsa tamales. I godda da recipe from mi sangre, Chato.
- Grace: so I did the park avenue winter thing last night
- Me: gossip style?
- Grace: (dress up as a school girl, get dinner and drinks for free)
- Me: nice
- Grace: it was phenomenal
- Me: hahaha sweet
- Grace: EVERYTHING was free
- Me: how are they making money off of that?
- Grace: from the regular menu
- Me: seriously?
- Grace: they let you pick
- Me: wow
- Grace: any app, any entree, dessert
- side dish for the table
- Me: who'd you go with?
- Grace: two drinks
- (including any glass of wine under $18)
- I went with my friend liz
- Liz, miso glazed WHOLE lobster
- me, John Dory with truffles
- apps - venison tartar and porcini mushroom ravioli with swiss chard and gorgonzola cream
- The side I kind of fell in love with
- brocolli and cheetos!
- so hysterical. The woman next to us in all seriousness actually asked us what school we went to. I told her “Constance Billiard” (school from gossip girl) because we thought she was joking, but turns out she really didn’t know about the promotion (and was subsequently peeved about not getting her dinner for free.) I’m sure she asked because she saw little school girl Liz digging into a giant lobster and wanted to know what snobby UES institution could possibly have created her.
- dessert - brown butter cake with poached pears and pear sorbet
- and preserved plums
- complementary espresso
- you should seriously consider going in drag
Hi. Guess what? I made two incredible meals this weekend, feasted like a crazy in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, ate at my favorite breakfast restaurant and I didn’t take one picture. I like to think I post quality over quantity, but sometimes, I forget about you peeps, and for that I’m sorry. But still, I hope you come here for the links, the crappy pictures of my food (it’s my camera!) and the silly stories that I think up.
This week I plan on doing a lot of things. I plan on trying out the recipe for my Bacon-Takedown entry this week and I plan on curing my own bacon. The Charcuterie book I ordered last week came in and after spending a couple of days on my shelf, I finally cracked it and all I can say is, possibilities (plans)! More to come (real posts as my mother calls them) soon.
Now, I know automatically, I sound uber-sexist with this one, but the only reason my dad and I watched Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals was for the view. There was her cute smile and dimples too, but with the oven situated directly behind her kitchen counter, she was definately going to have to bend over to put that casserole dish somewhere.
Nowadays, I don’t really think she’s that attractive, just annoying, but you do have to appreciate a girl who addresses many of her viewer’s fantasies in a photo shoot for lad-mag FHM. Six years later, she’s defending her actions, but come on, she knows her audience!
Not surprisingly, the delicious crunch and cakey taste of falafel wasn’t introduced to me in Texas. A warm pita bread with pickled cabbage, cucumber hummus and fried balls of chickpea were honestly something I didn’t think about.
This was mainly because there are strict rules in Texas regarding the food you shall eat, and falafel really breaks most of the rules.
Texas Food Rules:
- There must be meat in it
- Only eating vegetables for a meal is the equivalent to coming out of the closet in the 1950s
- The only acceptable types of bread you can eat are as follows: cornbread, biscuits, white bread, po-boy bread and tortillas
- Yogurt is for dieting office ladies
With these rules firmly in place, its entirely understandable why I would steer clear of this cuisine. Oh, how naive I was! But do not think falafel won me in some overnight fashion, oh no it was a long process along with a new set of rules that took me to the fast food of the middle east.
New York Food Rules:
- You have little money
- Food carts are your friends
- Some girls are vegans/vegetarians, that means they cringe when you mention your obsession with the perfect rib-eye, humor them in some way
- You must be, somewhat, culturally relevant so do what others do
With a bit of embarrassment, I can tell you that the first falafel I had was probably two years ago. Since then, I’ve tried to make it to all of the city’s most famous falafel sites like Mamoun’s, Rainbow and an unknown favorite of mine, Pick-A-Pita, with a general appreciation of the chickpea concoction.
For some reason two weeks ago, I thought falafel would be the perfect thing to make from scratch. It seamed easy enough, blend some chickpeas with onion, cumin and garlic, form into balls and fry. This sort of blazen gusto led to a horrible mess in my frying pan. But when I finally did get it down (psst you need a binder, yo!) it was amazing. Golden brown crunch on the outside, with a dough like consistency in the middle, all out of that little wonder, the chickpea.
And although I miss the days of strict Texas food rules for their rigidity and moral high ground, I appreciate my new “New York” rules for the world of cart food it has opened up.
My favorite part is mixing, dunno why. Maybe its because you’re making a massive dance party, with your food.
This picture looks like I’m a food stylist, but a really crappy one because I forgot to get the clean paper towel for the money shot.
Falafel and avocado slices? Why not?
1 lb dried chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans)
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
4 cups vegetable oil (or canola/blend)
Soak beans overnight. Barely cover chickpeas in large stockpot with water, boil for one hour. Drain the beans and dry as thoroughly as possible. Put chickpeas and the rest of the dry ingredients in a food processor and chop until the mix runs up the sides of the food processor. Note: You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.
In a deep-sided frying pan, heat the vegetable oil to about 350 degrees. You can gauge whether the oil is hot enough for frying by taking a small crumb of your mix and placing it into the oil. If it bubbles up fast, the oil is ready.
Scoop the chickpea mixture into a mixing bowl and grab enough mix in your hands to make a ball the size of a golf ball. An ice-cream scoop might work well in this situation also. Place the falafel balls into the hot oil (carefully!) and cook for about 5-7 minutes. You want enough oil to cover the falafel, so you might have to turn the falafel in order to get an even fry. I would start by making one falafel ball first to see if you’ve got the right proportion of flour to your mix, if it falls apart, add more.
The beauty of this is that you can save the mixture for another meal. Enjoy deliscious fried chickpea!