The cochon de lait at J.Fires' Market Bistro reflects the Louisiana education of both Jennifer Pensoneau and her executive chef, John Sewell. Pensoneau was introduced to wonders of fire-roasted suckling pig through a Cajun friend while in culinary school.
"My friend invited me to her house, and I just remember gnawing on the backbone. It was some of the best pork I'd ever eaten," she says. "I designed our oven so that instead of just pizzas I could fit whole sheets in there and do roasting and baking."
Served as a small brick of pork atop an olive-studded pile of creamy whipped potatoes, the meat of the young pig is sandwiched between a piece of bacon and its own crisp skin. It's topped with mushroom-laced gravy and surrounded with oyster mushrooms, battered and fried. With a gentle twist of the fork, the square of pork shreds. The flavor's delicate and buttery.
Fire-Roasted Suckling Pig 1 30-pound pig, cleaned 4 large onions, large dice 6 stalks celery, large dice 6 carrots, large dice 1/2 bottle white wine 5 sprigs parsley 4 cups pig rub
1. Set pig on a full sheet pan and pour the wine over the pig to wet the skin.
2. Generously rub the pig with the spice rub and stuff its belly with onions, celery and carrots. Turn the pig onto its stomach with the arms and legs facing forward as if it were lying on its belly.
3.Wrap entire pan in foil and roast in wood-fired oven overnight at about 250 degrees F.
Pig Rub 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 1 cup paprika 1/2 cup chili powder 2 tablespoons garlic powder 2 tablespoons allspice 1/2 cup salt
Mix together spices in a bowl.
Cochon de Lait 6 quarts pulled pig meat, or 2 pork butts pig skin reserved, or 1 pack bacon 3 tablespoons salt 1-1/2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup butter
1. Melt butter and garlic together.
2. Place pork in large bowl and add salt, chipotle and garlic butter.
3. Line a hotel pan with plastic, then enough skin or bacon to cover the bottom of the pan.
4. Mix pork well and pack on top of skin. Wrap the top with plastic, then place the other hotel pan on top and weight down.
5. Refrigerate for 6 hours. Cut into squares. Cook to order.
If you don't have access to a means of fire-roasting a whole 30-pound pig, Pensoneau says her cochon de lait can be made with any pulled pork. Whatever means you choose, a cobbler made with fresh-picked sour cherries is the perfect conclusion (recipe follows...).
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