Hugs and bisous have been exchanged and the chefs have demanded that I come back to visit when I’m back in the Var. My internship is over. It ended on a Friday afternoon after a quiet lunch service with Pastry Chef X and I already changed, ready to go home, and then having remembered we forgot to prepare the ice cream for dinner service.
My next internship begins on the 16th. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to having around two weeks off to relax, catch up on my school work (yes, it’s still on-going despite not being in class) and most importantly, being off my feet. How I love chairs.
Yet, the day after I finished my internship – yes, the very next day – I was up at 8am cooking. I was preparing my husband’s Birthday Lunch.
This has become a tradition for us. We’re the type of people who don’t need fancy or expensive gifts and any item that we might particularly desire, we just buy for ourselves. So I never know what to get him for his birthday and instead cook him an elaborate meal involving some sort of meat and cheese of his choosing.
Lately, my husband has been getting into beer the way I do wine. By that I mean he’s been sampling and pairing with the seriousness of a wanna-be sommellier. Along with his Birthday Lunch – which must be done in capitals – I decided to get him a good beer sampler as proper beer is sadly lacking in this part of France.
But what to eat with said beer? That was the question.
The March issue of Saveurs, my favorite French foodie magazine, had special on the nostalgic and very American Route 66, including the burger and fry diner recipes so iconic of American culture. All spring he talked about them and finally requested that I make him the pulled pork burger recipe from the magazine.
I agreed and gathered ingredients. I sat down (gleefully) Friday evening with a glass of wine and the recipe in front of me to prepare for the next day and reading it over for the first time realized the pork took 4 hours to cook. That’s the last time I read a recipe at the last minute.
Thus I found myself braising and basting pork ribs at 8am.
These burgers were tender and sweet. The amount of water used and the low cooking temperature keeps the pork very moist and soft. I did cut back a bit on the maple syrup and added just a teaspoon extra of the cranberry jam to add some extra tang to the meat. Served with a few slices of Edam (or a strong cheddar) the bite of the cheese adds to the flavor and offsets the sweet sauce. It definitely brings back memories of diners and burger joints and greasy comfort foods.
Then there was dessert. After the past three months working with two very talented pastry chefs, I was ready for elaborate requests, creams and doughs and caramels. Something that took 24 hours to set. Or at least a tiramisu – his favorite. I even had a few ideas if he couldn’t come up with anything. So I asked him what he wanted for dessert after his pulled pork.
A milkshake? I was ready to set some cherries on fire, but alright…
I have to admit, however, that my husband had it right. After cooking the pork and preparing the side dishes, pistachio chocolate chip milkshakes were refreshingly easy to prepare. Though I couldn’t resist topping them with some homemade vanilla whipped cream.
What is more American than a burger and a milkshake? I should have found some roller skates and zoomed around the apartment ala 1950′s drive-ins.
I’ll set some cherries on fire some other time…
- 400 – 500g pork ribs
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cranberry jam
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 burger buns
- 2 slices of Edam or Cheddar cheese
- mustard, mayo for garnish*
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F
- In a large frying pan heat the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and then cook on both sides for a few minutes (about 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness). Add the onion and garlic and let everything cook for another 2 minutes or so. Add the maple syrup and cranberry jam and make sure the pork in well covered.
- Pour the pork and its soon to be sauce in a large baking dish with 2 glasses of water – you want the water to just come up to the same level as the pork. Cook the pork for 4 hours, basting it regularly. If needed add more water (but you shouldn’t need it).
- When the four hours is up pull the pork from the bones, though it should fall off on its own during cooking. Toast the burgers in the oven with the cheese and then assemble your burgers with the pork, leftover sauce and some mayo or mustard if desired. Serve with fries and coleslaw.