Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chipotle Burger with Seared Pork Belly and Sriracha Pork Belly Mac and Cheese

Sometimes in life you have to deal with disappointments.  It happens to all of us and we all deal with it in different ways. What do I do when I am a bit blue?  I make comfort food.  Interestingly, I think I have finally decided what my niche in this culinary business is:  comfort food.  I am at my most creative, and possibly most deliciously self-destructive when I have the blues. My most oft viewed dishes have been when I was mad, sad or disappointed, just outright blue.  How funny and ironic is that?  I really  need to find a creative balance so that I create awesome, thoughtful dishes All the time!  Guess I am work in progress, huh?

So the other night I received a bit of disappointing news. Life in the big city news, something that just couldn't be helped.  And like everyone's Grandma, I went directly to the store and got busy in my kitchen cooking up a storm.  Isn't that what most Grannys do for their kids or grand kids who either come to visit or who are unhappy?  Mine always did. From the minute we arrived at my Grandma P's house until the minute we left, my Grandma was in and out of the kitchen, the most amazing smells wafting with her from the kitchen.  I still remember those myriad aromas, savory and sweet, both.  Perhaps that is why I always go directly to comfort food because those visits with my Grandma and Grandpa were always comforting, as they were very loving people.  My problem now?  I just called myself an old granny.  Oyyy.  But, I digress.  I have an awesome, and I mean AWESOME burger and mac and cheese recipe for you!!!  Let's get busy with it!!!

Unsure as to why I threw this flavor combination together, but I wanted smokey and spicy, so I made a burger incorporating Chipotle seasonings into the burger, topped it with sriracha seared sliced pork belly, garnished with fresh baby arugula to incorporate arugula's peppery flavor, and slathered the top and bottom of the bun with sriracha mayo I'd spiked with Chinese garlic chili sauce. 

Burger Mix
2 pounds ground beef ( one pound lean, one pound chuck)
1/4 finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 tablespoons Chipotle in Adobo, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Chipotle powder
2 tablespoons smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce + 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (this for the pork belly)
salt and pepper, about a teaspoon each
1/4 pound pork belly, sliced in to eight pieces (two per burger)
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese


Place one small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a small drizzle of evoo to the skillet.  Once the oil ripples and flows like water over the skillet, add the pork belly.  It will sizzle and maybe smoke a little, so you may want to turn on the hood fan. Add a drizzle of sriracha atop each of the pork belly slices.  When the bottom crusts, flip it and add sriracha to the seared side.  After four minutes, flip it again for another two.  This allows the sauce to crust onto the pork belly. This will smell absolutely incredible!

 Score the meat after mixing and create four equal sized burgers.  I was able to do that and have a "chef's treat" mini patty.  Set that aside for bit and let the meat come to room temperature, about thirty minutes.  

Next, you can add a little evoo to a large skillet, but, I used my cast iron skillet, so I did not need to add evoo to it.  Over high heat, I added a little salt and pepper, top and bottom, to each burger and allowed them to sear until they had formed an amazing and aromatic crust, about six or seven minutes.  Once again, the range hood fan should be on high, as the meat will cause some great smelling smoke. Test a burger to see if it is ready to be flipped.  If the meat sticks to the skillet, do not forcefully try to scrape it up.  Allow it to sear further.  It will release on its own once the sugars develop.  Once you have flipped the burgers, reduce the heat to medium.  Add the cheese to the top of the burgers, add a foil tent to it and allow the cheese to fully melt so it drips over the sides of the burgers.  

Finally, toast the buns, whatever buns you decide to use.  I sprayed them with evoo and sprinkled some garlic powder on them.  That is one more bit of added flavor that I love to do for my burgers. I put sriracha mayo on the top and bottom of the buns, added a cheesy burger, the sriracha seared pork belly and arugula atop that.  Incredibly warm, spicy, tangy  flavorful burger.  Every bite is an adventure in flavor!  The mac and cheese accompanying it is just as radical!!!

Now, ready for the mac and cheese?  I call it my Seared Pork Belly Sriracha Mac and Cheese. I used five different cheeses:  Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Chipotle Cheddar, Fontina (one of my favorites!) and Extra Sharp cheddar. 

 Here are the other ingredients
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup of diced pork belly
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, separated
1 pound large, grooved macaroni elbows
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese for topping the mac and cheese
2 tablespoons evoo + two tabs butter for the roux
3 tablespoons flour 
salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon each for the roux
1/2 cup beer or wine (for "growed up" mac and cheese) to deglaze the pan

Everyone has their own mac and cheese recipe and their own way of making it.  There really is not wrong way to do this, unless you burn it, but here is how I make mine. 

First, preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Starting bringing four quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.   

Grate the cheeses and prep the garlic and onion. 

In a large, high-sided sauce pan, add a small drizzle of evoo over medium-high heat. Add the cup of diced pork belly and allow it to crisp up, about five to seven minutes. Remove and set it aside in a bowl.  Next, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and onion and allow it to saute, about three or four minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Some of the fat in the pork belly, which has considerable fat content, will have rendered.  Remove about half of it, to remove some of the sodium content, and add the evoo and butter.  Add the flour and buttermilk and whisk it well and quickly to break up and cook the flour.  Add the two tablespoons of sriracha to the roux. Add the beer or wine, IF you are making a grown up version, otherwise just leave it out, and begin to add the cheeses, a good rounded cup of each.  If you need to add more milk, add it a splash at a time.  You do not want to overdo it on the buttermilk.  You want the mixture to be gooey and thick. 

By now, the water in the large pot should be at a roiling boil.  Liberally salt the water, as it is the only chance you have to season the macaroni. Boil the macaroni elbows according to the directions.  Now, I'd picked up a particular macaroni that I will be using from now on. The elbows are larger than usual, they have grooves on them which picks up and keeps sauces and in our case, cheese, that clings to each bite.  Flavor!!!  Drain the macaroni in a colander and add it right back to the sauce pan with the cheese mixture. Do not worry if there is pasta water still in some of the macaroni.  This is a good thing!  It helps the cheesy mixture cling better to the macaroni!


 Stir the macaroni into the cheese mixture and get it all coated and incorporated.  Once you have tossed it to your satisfaction, add it to an oven safe bowl or baking pan.  I used the  60- year- old Pyrex my Aunt gave me a few years ago.  You can see it in various mac and cheese recipes I have blogged previously.  Top the mac and cheese mixture with grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle the crisped pork belly bits atop the parm and add a drizzle of the sriracha.  I made a circular pattern, but you do what you want.  I was feeling fancy, if you can call that fancy.  Let's take a look!

 Ready for the oven, just about!  Drizzle some evoo atop the parmesan and sriracha.  This will help the cheese to brown up and crisp up!  Bake in the oven at 400-degrees for
40 minutes.  Some people cover it for thirty minutes, then uncovered for fifteen or twenty minutes, but I just baked it for forty minutes uncovered.  

Now, time to plate your dish!  I made four burgers, and this batch of macaroni and cheese will serve eight, easily, with leftovers to spare!  And who doesn't like luxuriously decadent mac and cheese leftovers?  Here's a little photo essay.  Try to spot the jealous vulture!!!  


As always, dear gentle readers, Thank You for your time and consideration!  Now, go COOK SOMETHING GREAT for someone you love!  Or a lot of someones you love!!!