Thursday, April 1, 2010

No More No Knead

No knead bread was soooo 2006.  What... you still like planning 18-20 hours in advance to bake and enjoy your bread?  You like dealing with incredibly super-sticky dough?  All that and sometimes you still end up with failure.  Welcome to the future: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I started making this bread a few weeks ago after listening to Farmcast, a podcast from Nature's Harmony Farm.

The process is incredibly simple.  Mix together some flour, water, salt and yeast and let it sit on the counter to rise for about 2 hours.  In this regard it is similar to the no knead method (no kneading required).  After that cover it, refrigerate it, and use it within 2 weeks.  2 weeks!  How awesome is that?  

Here's where the "5 minutes" part comes in: whenever you want some bread (say when you get home from work) take the dough from the fridge, cut off a grapefruit sized chunk, quickly form it and plop it on a pizza peel sprinkled with corn meal.  It takes about 5 minutes (get it?).  What do you do with the rest of the dough?  Put it back in the fridge of course.  You'll get about 4 loaves of bread from the master recipe.

Let the dough rest for 40 minutes on the pizza peel and preheat your oven to 450 with a stone on the top rack and a broiler pan underneath.  After 40 minutes, slash the dough with a serrated knife, slide it onto the stone, and pour about a cup or so of water into the broiler pan.  Careful, you're going to get lots of steam so don't burn yourself.  30 minutes in the oven and you get this... 

I won't reprint the recipe here, but the master recipe that I've described above can be found in the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking or you can find it reprinted with permission on the web.  I suggest looking at these websites, The Global Gourmet, or Mother Earth News.  I don't see the need to ever make no knead bread again.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lardo di Arnad: Part 2

Back in late December I started the process of curing a hunk of fatback from what I later determined to be an Ossabaw hog.  The fatback came from Nature's Harmony Farm of course... would you expect anything different at this point?!  Originally I was going to cut the fatback into smaller pieces to make lard, but Jason who I'll call an expert on the subject of curing meats, suggested that I make Lardo di Arnad.  So I did.  
The process was relatively simple: boil some water, dump in some salt and spices and, once it was cool, toss in the hunk of fatback.  I guess the hardest part was waiting the 3 months for it to cure.  The result?  At first I must admit I was skeptical.  The water had turned a dark brown (see above) and it smelled quite strong.  Kind of like spices sitting in salty water for 3 months with a hunk of fatback.  So I cut off a piece, toasted some homemade bread and laid thin slices of the Lardo di Arnad on top of the hot toast to partially melt (see below).  Holy crap this is good stuff.  Salty, silky, and hugely flavorful with a wonderful pork flavor.  I'm quite pleased with the results. 
So far I seem to be the only one in this house who eats the stuff... and I've got lots.  Come on over and try some.