Isn’t this a beautiful cutting board??? I’m still in awe over it. Also, like most things on the blog, there is a story behind it – a board meeting story full of politics and apportionment of pork.
On December 24, 2013, we received an unexpected package from Ireland. If you have forgotten or just didn’t know, our beloved Hetty the Hen was the last parcel we received from Ireland; so, I was duly curious about this package’s contents. It was clearly too small for another batch of Irish immigrants but you never know. So, even though it wasn’t yet Christmas, I had to see what we had received and opened the parcel. Lo and behold, inside was one of the most beautiful, hand crafted cutting boards I have ever seen. Aint it a thing of beauty?? The feature image pork roast looks so nice sitting atop this beautiful board. The Berksire pork roast was our Christmas gift from my brother John. So, today’s post is about my 2 special Christmas gifts and some gratuitous photos thrown in for pleasure. :) I hope I do them both justice.
Board Meeting Politics
Accompanying the wonderful cutting board was a note from my blogging buddy Conor Bofin (aka
“Godfather” “Chairman of the Board”) who so graciously presented me with this beautiful piece of functional art. Thank you so much, Conor. It is soooo very appreciated.
In the note, he asked that I join his board. Obviously, I was duly impressed and flattered that someone of Conor’s
Godfatherliness international prominence would invite me to be a member of his board and send me such a nice gift as a token of his appreciation. As a practicing attorney with decades of experience and expertise, I felt duly qualified for the task and knew I had a lot to offer.
Then, Baby Lady read the rest of the letter and realized it wasn’t your typical board, i.e. board of directors, board of trustees. Instead, it was this type of board.
DRAT!!! Now, I had to read the rest of the letter. I hate it when that happens! Then, I realized that not only was this not a normal board peculiar to my particular talents but he presented me a challenge, as well. I thought immigrant hens were a problem. Sheesh!! This is Conor’s letter.
Now, before I go any further, if you haven’t checked out Conor’s blog, you should. Not only is Conor the Godfather of Firstcom, a dynamic, full-service, communications agency in Dublin,
(Oh… did I say Godfather…I meant Managing Director…Drat! Drat! Drat!… Please Godfather…er.. Managing Director…er Conor…no horse heads, please…Baby Lady prefers barbacoa ;) ), but he is an avid cyclist.
More importantly, Conor has a fabulous food blog, One Man’s Meat. You don’t even have to take my word for it. In 2012, Conor won the Best Newcomer Blog in the Ireland Blog Awards. Then, in 2013, the Ireland Blog Awards awarded him the Best Food & Drink Blog AND the Glenisk Recipe Blog Competition Winner for his post Barbecued Lamb with Yoghurt, Mint and Cumin and Caving in to Commercial Realism. He also has a good sense of humor as reflected in his blog musings. His posts not only make me hungry but they always bring a smile to my face.
So, (not wanting to give up this beautiful board – ;) ) without hesitation but with great trepidation (in addition to Conor, Stefan and Nick are really great cooks with very nice blogs you need to check out/follow) I accepted the
Godfather’s Chairman’s invitation to the board and accompanying challenge. In accordance with the dictates of the Godfather Chairman and rules of the challenge, today, January 23, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time there is a global simulcast of board posts, i.e. the meeting of the board. So, when you finish reading this post make sure you go over to Conor’s, Stefan’s and Nick’s blogs to see what they did. Hopefully, you won’t be bored. :D It should be fun as I truly have no idea what they are going to do. :) Hmmm…being somewhat competitive, not wanting to be outdone by my competitors and to keep you from being bored, I guess now is as good a time as any to toss in a gratuitous presentation shot with this fabulous board.
Now, about the board, whenever you are gifted with such a treasure you must ensure it is treated with the love and care you would give to a fine piece of wood. Hence, before using, it must be oiled for the first 7 days with a food safe mineral oil. Some of you may be asking why oil a new cutting board? Well, the answer is that oiling the board for the first 7 days allows the oils to absorb into the pores of the wood helping to prevent staining and absorption of food odors and bacteria. While it won’t make it waterproof, the oiling does make it water resistant which helps it keep its condition when cleaning. Oiling also makes the board prettier and adds a nice luster to it. :) It also keep me from being bored on slow days. :) So, that is precisely what I did.
Make sure you are using a food safe mineral oil NOT vegetable oil, olive oil, or various nut oils. Vegetable oil, olive oil, and nut oils can (and generally will) turn rancid damaging your lovely board. Some people say you can use coconut oil because, by virtue of it high proportion of saturated fats, it is one of the most stable oils and is highly resistant to rancidity. I choose to be safe with food safe mineral oil – don’t confuse mineral oil with mineral spirits as mineral spirits, i.e. paint thinner, is anything but food safe and will ruin your board. :o Apply the mineral oil with a soft cloth, oiling in the direction of the grain. Once applied, allow the oil to soak into the pores for the initial seasoning. After each oiling, wait about four to six hours and wipe off any excess oil that did not soak into the wood. Re-oil the board monthly or as often as needed. If properly maintained, a quality cutting board like this can (and should) become a family heirloom. With that said, it’s time for another gratuitous board shot.
I must also mention one other thing about wood cutting boards such as this beauty – yes, it’s safe to cut meat, raw or cooked, on a wood cutting board. Now, there are many people out there, including Alton Brown, who claim you should never cut or even place meat on a wooden cutting board. Their “theory” is that all those meat juices will settle into those tiny cuts in the board, and no matter how much you clean and scrub, those germs aren’t coming out. Hence, you will ever after have an unsanitary, contaminated cutting board. These people say you should use plastic cutting boards for meat, both cooked and raw, and never use your meat board with any other foods for fear of cross-contamination.
I say “Balderdash!!” Studies by UC-Davis Food Safety Laboratory show there are no appreciable antibacterial benefits from using a plastic cutting board over a wood one. In fact, to the contrary, studies have shown that properly maintained wooden cutting boards are actually safer and more sanitary than plastic or antibacterial cutting boards. This is because, through the natural capillary action of the wood, the bacteria quickly pass through the top layer of the wood and settle inside, where they’re virtually impossible to bring out unless, in a bored fit of insanity, you split the board open. :o Definitely, not a good idea from a health point of view – yours or the board’s. Hence, once the bacteria passes through the top layer of the board, the exposed area is free of microbes unlike those plastic antibacterial cutting boards where the microbes are lying in waiting on the nonabsorbent plastic surface. Now, one last gratuitous board photo before getting down to some serious pokiness and the rest of the story.
Serious, Delicious, Porky Pig Goodness
Have I bored you yet? If not, now that you have been introduced to the board and its members, it’s time to get down to serious pork. I mean, there really is no need for a board meeting unless you’re going to start apportioning the pork, right? So, this section of the post is dedicated to the board’s apportionment of the pork. I bet you never thought I would get here.
Before I give you the recipe and technique, I need to remind you that at the beginning of this post I commented that this was no ordinary pork. Nope, this is a Berkshire pork roast but what is Berkshire pork? Berkshire pigs (also known as black pigs) date back over 300 years to the swine herd of the House of Windsor. These pigs were prized for their exceptional flavor and juicy, tender meat. Nowadays, they are sought out by chefs worldwide. Also,one last tidbit of useless information (if I haven’t completely bored you yet), Kurobuta are 100% Berkshire pigs. Not all 100% Berkshire pigs, however, can be qualified as Kurobuta. To be Kurobuta pork the meat must pass additional standards and specifications. This pork roast was not Kurobuta but it was 100% Berkshire pig. It was stunningly delicious and, for my board recipe post, this is what we did.
For the Pork
- One 6-pound, bone-in pork loin roast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Brine
- 1-1/2 cup mirin
- 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
- 4 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 10 small dried red chiles or 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 orange juiced
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 8 cups cold water
For the Sauce
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 orange, juiced
- 2 Tbsp orange blossom honey
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 4 cloves
- 2 Tbsp non GMO corn starch
Rinse the pork roast and put it into a large, 2 gallon zip lock bag.
Now, add the ginger
orange slices, and orange juice
and sesame oil.
Seal, mix it all together and refrigerate overnight.
The following day, preheat the oven to 350°. Drain the pork and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom roasting pan over medium heat.
Add the pork roast
and cook over moderate heat, pressing down to brown evenly, until browned, roughly10 minutes. Now, transfer the roast to a roasting rack bone side down.
Place in the oven
and roast for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135°.
For the Sauce
While the pork is nicely roasting, make the sauce. Start by adding the 3 cups of beef stock to a sauce pot.
Now add the fresh orange juice.
Then the honey
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer until the liquid has reduced by 1/3. Cover, remove from heat and keep in a warm place until ready to finish.
Remove pork roast from the oven,
cover the pork very loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
While the pork roast is resting, return the sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Make a slurry of corn starch and water.
Add to the sauce to thicken.
Simmer until the sauce has reached its desired thickness, roughly 3 – 5 minutes.
Now, move the beautiful pork roast to the stunning cutting board.
Using a long carving knife, cut the juicy pork in between the rib bones for a deliciously thick slice of tender, juicy porkiness.
One last gratuitous board photo just because…
Plate and spoon sauce over the meat.
Serve & enjoy, we surely did. :)
And with all of the aforementioned said, I hereby move to adjourn this meeting of the boards, or, in the unforgettable words of the iconic Porky Pig, “Th-th-th-tha-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!” :D