The pig and pinot episode brings up some great questions for us who are trying to enjoy all the flavors of life and still maintain a healthy approach to our body fuel. It's true that pork is a great friend, maybe the best friend of us chefs, cooks and just about everyone else, except for some of our Jewish friends who follow the old beliefs that the pig is a filthy swine and at one time was capable of getting you very sick or even killing you. Well not today, not anymore -- today we have designer swine! Pigs that are raised with extremely high fat levels that take our taste buds on a magical carpet ride of sincere overload.
I loved watching all of the different approaches our Top Chefs used with the pig. Drawing the knife for different cuts and body parts was also a great way to ensure all of our chefs didn’t go straight for the belly which has the highest fat concentration and when cooking for buffet service would be the most forgiving in the fact it would not dry out. Once again we have four chefs who lead the pack of pig cookers to the winners circle. Never before in Top Chef history have we had such a dominating crew. It's rare that anyone else gets in the top except for the brothers, Kevin, and Jen. If I had to call the finals right now I would have these four of course and each and every week Kevin is the one living in the brick house when the wolf dressed in granny’s clothes (Tom Colichio) comes a-blowing! Jen and Bryan are bunkered down in the stick house with Jen lacking a little in confidence and Bryan being as dry as Death Valley in the summertime. Michael is a rock star but as it goes with a lot of rock stars he may accidentally burn down his straw house with his molecular gastronomy “crack” pipe. Just my thoughts, and if I were a gambling man I would throw Eli in as an outside chance of making the distance. Let me know who you have going to the big “dance” finale?
Now enough about them let's talk about us: I love pig, you love pig! Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto, belly, cheek, loin, tender, ribs, hooves, and ears! Pig has the best-flavored fat of all of our hooved friends and has so many diverse applications. It's true if we eat too much pig we actually may as the old saying goes “You are what you eat.” So here at healthy remix we want to live large and not deny ourselves anything but maintain our beach bodies or at the least not clog the arteries. I have always used different pork products to enhance my dishes. I am known as the seafood chef but I have always played with the “Surf and Turf” approach. Think like this when cooking with pork and we can all live forever! Take a nice affordable piece of Albacore tuna, cut it into square strips wrap it with some prosciutto and sear it on all sides – result is a nice crispy, salty piece of rich tuna that was lacking personality now has the “it” going on. Add some crispy bacon or braised belly to a green salad, or take some of the rendered bacon fat and toss it with your croutons. The pork loin and tender loin are relatively lean and should be eating with a clear concision. Pancetta vinaigrette? Or small diced pancetta in your summer corn? Same as we always do at Healthy Remix, don’t deny yourself, but pace yourself. Eat the healthy things with the essence of swine.
This is my favorite time of Top Chef; we are over half way home and the great chefs are really putting out some great food. They are in the zone. Comfortable with the game and the cameras, the clock is but a game rather then a nuisance and each challenge is devoured with a new-found enthusiasm. Of course we still have a couple of chefs who are out of their league and soon will be heading home with knives nicely packed.
I had dinner at Stefan’s place in L.A. a few days ago and the place is fun and relaxed L.A. Farm is a must on your next trip to the west. Of course Stefan was as serious and focused as we all remember him! I still believe he should have won TC 5!