Pumpkin Soup and a braised pork belly

This morning I would like to start with a thank you to all the Veterans who have served or are serving our country. Without the hard work and dedication of these men and women it wouldn't be possible for thirty something year old man like myself to be sitting here writing about food.

I own and have read around 200 cookbooks. When I look for a cookbook i like to find things that are unusual and maybe a little out of my comfort zone. The Book Au Pied De Cochon by Martin Picard certainly fits that bill. The art work in the book is disturbing but entertaining at the same time. The recipes are a bit on the wild side as well. Most dishes call for Foie Gras and the Maple braised pigs feet are amazing. Everything in the book has been an absolute delight, his recipe for homemade pickles was easy and they are the best pickles I have ever eaten. The Corn relish was fantastic, both by itself and as a condiment on burgers and brats.

I recently prepared a Pumpkin soup out of the book and was amazed at how simple the recipe was but how complex the flavors were. I had never eaten a pumpkin soup before and had no Idea what it would be like. You start by gutting two small pumpkins and roasting them in the oven with 5 garlic cloves, half an onion, a sprig of thyme and rosemary, some olive oil, and salt and pepper. After Roasting you remove all the ingredients from inside the pumpkin and scoop out the meat from inside one of the pumpkins. in a food processor you mix the ingredients with pork stock and cream then return the mixture to a pot over medium heat. add about a cup of parmesean cheese some salt and pepper to taste and serve it in the left over pumpkin. it really was fantastic. I served it with a braised pork belly and my wife and I really enjoyed it. Of course my wife will tell you that she would never eat pork belly, but as I have learned she will try most anything and enjoy it.

The Braised pork belly is a creation of my own and I will add the recipe here. Pork belly is something that I would never have eaten as a child but now as I have expanded my tastes i love it. Some may not like it because of the fat content but I asure you that if you cook it right it will be delicious. I get my pork belly from the asian market, they sell it there in managable pieces of about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and it is very easy to cook.

1.5 to 2 pounds of pork belly
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp chipolte powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup honey
about 2 cups of pork stock although vegetable stock works fine as well

mix the dry ingredients into a rub and rub the pork. brown in an oven proof pan on both sides. with the skin side up cover with honey. add stock to come up about half way on the pork belly and move to a 350 degree oven for 1 hour basting the pork every 15 minutes or so. when finished you will have a very reduced and flavorful stock to pour over the top. However there will be a lot of fat in there as well. I just use a baster to get the stock from underneath the fat and then add it to the top of the pork.

I hope you enjoy.