Dinner last night started in tragedy.
Jim and I got the grill set up to smoke the pork belly which has been curing in the fridge for the last 10 days on its way to becoming bacon. He soaked applewood chunks, we set the grill pan on the lowest setting, waited until the coals were nice and glowing, set the wrapped applewood chunks on top, set the slabs of pork belly on the warming rack above the grill surface, closed it up and went inside to continue dinner prep while the bacon smoked for a leisurely hour or so.
About 20 minutes later I went out to check the temperature and saw flames shooting out of the side of the grill.
The slabs of pork belly had caught fire. We had to pull them out with long tongs and put them in the fire pit and smother them with the lid of the cast iron dutch oven. We’re still trying to decide whether to try and salvage what’s left or just throw them away.
The rest of dinner, thankfully, was fantastic. We took the coils of sausage I made Saturday, speared them with perpendicular metal skewers, grilled them until almost done, and then finished them in a simmering bath of beer and sauteed sweet peppers. I love cooking fresh sausage this way and the extra moisture from the final beer braise kept the lower-fat sausages from drying out.
I also made poutine for the first time. Poutine is a Canadian dish, but I made a Southern version with sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market, locally made cheese, and gravy made from pork roast drippings.
6 big sweet potatoes, cut for steak fries
2-3 tbl Cajun or blackening seasoning
2 cups brown gravy, however you want to make it
1 lb Wainwright Dairy fresh cheddar curds (Get ’em at Wards!)
Plenty of cracked pepper
Heat oven to 450. Toss cut up sweet potatoes with olive oil and plenty of blackening or Cajun seasoning. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, and then turn them all over and roast until well browned and soft on the inside. You may have to cook them in batches. Heat gravy to simmering. Once all the fries are done, put them all in a baking dish. Separate the cheddar curds with your fingers and scatter over the fries, then pour over the piping hot gravy. Hit with a final blast of black pepper.
Then back away quickly so you’re not trampled by the ravening hordes.