I came across a poem (in Peter Kaminsky’s Pig Perfect) by the renaissance-period Spanish poet, Baltazar del Alcázar. Of course, the poem’s central theme is about love, but it has equally as much to do with food (anyone who doesn’t think food and love or passion don’t intermingle, I’ll have you recall George Costanza’s libido frenzy rooted in pastrami!). Here’s the beginning of Alcázar’s poem, Three Things:

A prisoner of love I am

For Ines the fair and Spanish ham

These Things my heart do greatly please

Also eggplants and some cheese

Last weekend I again approached the fragile land of French culinary preparation. Of course, being that my last foray into French cooking was beef-centered, I decided, based on my recent gargantuan cravings, that I wanted pork – and that I wasn’t going to give up until I found what seemed to be a delicious French pork preparation. Thanks to Anthony Bourdain and his Les Halles Cookbook (which, undoubtedly, must become a staple in my cookbook shelf – it’s required of any cook/chef worth their chops), I found a decent recipe with which to attempt duplication.

mignons de porc

The dish above includes these three offerings (all from Les Halles Cookbook):

  • Mignons de porc à l’ail
  • Frisée aux lardons
  • Pommes purée

Basically what we have are two pork tenderloins, tied off, stuffed with bacon and mashed garlic confit. After a good sear, the roast was then popped in the oven to finish off at 160 degrees. The roast was then sliced into inch-and-a-half thick medallions. Don’t let the garlic confit scare you – in this case, it’s basically roasted garlic that is turned around and mashed so that it’ll spread easily. It tastes pretty much amazing (the simplest preparations always yield the most amazing flavors, eh?). The pommes purée, of course, is just creamy mashed potatoes, but if you follow the recipe in the book, you’ll end up with some potatoes that are basically beyond the pale compared to your average everyday. I tampered with the frisée salad a bit (knowing full well that if Bourdain were present, he’d kick my lily-white ass) by excluding the Roquefort cheese. I just replaced it with some goat cheese I had here at home – I hate to waste perfectly good cheese. The salad was particularly scrumptious because the vinaigrette (and, again, I omitted the chicken liver from the dressing because, well, then no one but me would eat it) was made from rendered bacon fat (from those lovely little center-cut bacon pieces you see in the photo…), butter, red wine vinegar, and shallots. The warm vinaigrette took some of the chewiness from the frisée away, leaving it nice and gently wilted.

While the roast, potatoes, and salad turned out even better than I thought it would, my tasting partner and guinea-pig wife, Kim, said that the pan sauce that I made from the seared bits, white wine, chicken stock, shallots, and some of the garlic confit was the best taste she’d ever had in her mouth ever, which is a good thing to hear considering that she’s tasted many things good and bad! Her only complaint was that the bacon inside was too fatty for her, which is understandable. The bacon is not cooked to a crisp before roasting, so the final product is a tender strip of bacon as opposed to a crispier, less fatty strip. Otherwise, I got the thumbs up again.

I’m digging the rustic French food.

And, allow me to reiterate: garlic confit is so delicious that if you don’t try incorporating it into the dishes you create (it’s SO easy to make…), you’re a foolish, foolish person.

Now, go forth and get for thee Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook – it is essential!