One thing I miss about being in an academic setting is the constant, gentle pressure to organize my time. Looking through my posts (from months ago, I know) I’ve come to realize that perhaps the missing factor to my recreational fulfillment is just that: time management. With college more than a year behind me, I’d like to convince you my sleep-work-eat routine is merely just me getting my post-degree autonomous bearings, but it’s really just me being comfortable and getting complacent with how easy this lifestyle is. Leftover symptoms from the senioritis, I suppose.
This past weekend, I renewed my gym membership. I keep thinking the more people I tell, the more accountable I’ll hold myself to actually go work out. I even gave myself fitness goals to achieve! I’ve wrapped this training schedule around my work schedule and intend to rigidly adhere to this healthy practice. Eventually, it’ll be part of my routine and I can keep adding things on top (especially keeping up this blog).
Before I start on this new endeavor towards health and betterment, I encourage you to indulge in what I’ve been obsessing about the past month or so. About eighty percent of my lunch breaks consisted of sandwiches ordered from All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge. Only recently, however, have I diverged from my bee-line to the daily specials and discovered the poutine on the regular menu. I’ve gotten it maybe three or four times since and it got me asking myself: what was stopping me from just making it at home? After calling a number of specialty food stores in the Cambridge-Somerville (lovingly referred to as “Camberville”) area, turns out it was buying cheese curds.
Ideas of what my poutine could be were clouding my mind while I exhausted my efforts when Lourdes and company over at Fiore Di Nonno, a local company known for their handcrafted, small batch mozzarella, helped these fat-boy pipe dreams come to fruition. As soon as I explained to the cheese maker and her team what my plans were, I knew she was on board. Lourdes wrapped up a healthy block of curd for me and I was well on my way to making this:
Eggplant frites topped with cheese curds and morsels of pork that’ve been braised in soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and star anise. Buttery eggplant slathered in an addicting sweet-savory sauce, seemingly alternating bites of gooey cheesy curds and succulent pulled pork… I’m sure this will get you to experiment with what you put on top of your fries or even what you make your fries out of. If you’ve got the time, go crazy. Or make pornographic food gifs.
Eggplant Poutine with Pork Asado
yields 2-3 servings
- ¾ pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into large cubes
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 star anise
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 tsps garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper, fresh ground
- oil for frying
- 1 large eggplant
- 12 ounces cheese curds
- chives, fine chopped, for garnish
Put pork, onions, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce, star anise in a saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until meat is fork tender, about 2 hours.
After pork has stewed for about an hour and a half, combine flour, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a medium sauce pot, heat at least two-inches of oil over medium-high heat. Peel eggplant and slice into ¾-inch thick batons, about 3-inches in length. Toss eggplant in flour mixture until well coated. When oil is roughly 350 degrees, drop pieces of coated eggplant into oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pot to prevent temperature from dropping. After about 1 minute, flip pieces to brown on other side. Remove eggplant fries when golden brown and crispy and allow to drain on cooling rack. Sprinkle with more salt. By now, pork should be falling apart and sauce should have reduced and thickened.
When ready to serve, remove pork from sauce. Shred pork with two forks and set aside. Assemble a handful of fries on plate and top with cheese curds and shredded pork. Spoon a generous amount of sauce on top. Garnish with finely chopped chives. Quiver and eat.