Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pot o' Neck Bones: Make Your Own Ramen

It wasn't that long ago that I was a college kid, subsisting mainly off of Hot Pockets, Easy Mac, and heaping late-night bowls of cereal. What's a skillet? Is that the one you put the bacon in?

And now here I find myself making ramen again. But stay with me! This is a good one.

Let's start with the ingredients. The style of ramen I made has a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth. I actually arrived at this recipe by way of pork bone. I recently subscribed to a new delivery service in Baton Rouge, and I'll be partnering with them regularly to whip up some seasonal and delicious things. Indie Plate is a pipeline to all that's fresh, seasonal, and delicious. Not just vegetables either! The site traffics in meat, fish, pantry goods, and more, all from local farms and artisans, for a small flat delivery fee too.

Ordering online, I'm at a much lower risk of loading up my cart with things I don't need or won't use in time. And I won't shop just for one recipe, which I am sadly prone to do. If you're in the area, I surely recommend it. And if you're not a Baton Rouge reader, fingers crossed that you've got something similar in the area—otherwise, start clamoring!

Back to pork neck bones: I found them on Indie Plate's site and, since I'd never made my own pork broth before, I was intrigued. And the recipe grew from there. Onions and carrots, summer vegetables for a stir-fry, leaf lard for the vegetables and frying the egg I set on top of the ramen. All from Indie Plate. I rounded up the rest from the neighborhood grocery once I had firmed up my ingredient list.

Most pork neck broth recipes I found involved simmering for about twelve hours. While I definitely wanted the punch of slow-roasted flavor, I was concerned with leaving the burners on, and I haven't yet used the crockpot I have in my closet. So when I found this alternative take from Seattle Magazine, I was relieved.

Let me take you through my adaptation—as well as the stir-fry I served on the side.

Pork bones from Iverstine Farms

A little more of my bounty from Indie Plate
Loveably ugly heirloom carrots
Roasted pork bones

Tonkotsu Ramen and Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry

Yield: 2 servings ramen and stir-fry; 2 cups of broth left-over

For pork broth:

4 small meaty pork neck bones (I used a 1.26 oz. package, but ideally would have used more)
3/4 cup water and 4 cups water, divided
1/3 of a white onion, not chopped or sliced, just segmented
2 medium carrots, stemmed and chopped
Kosher salt
Soy sauce

For ramen:
2 cups Pork Broth
1 package Top Ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded)
1 egg
2 inches leaf lard, diced
Sliced scallions (for garnish)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pulled pork from roasting pork bones

For summer stir-fry:4 inches leaf lard, chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
3 grape tomatoes, halved and chopped
One fourth an onion, sliced
Sesame oil

For the broth:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the pork bones in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Roast for 70–90 minutes, turning the bones over halfway through, until bones are browned all over.
2. Immediately after removing the pan, pour 3/4 cup water inside and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits. Transfer bones and liquid to a large stockpot.
3. Add four cups water, onion, and carrots. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two hours. Then cool to room temperature (about an hour).
4. Strain out the solids and set aside. Refrigerate the liquid overnight (I placed it in two mason jars.) Pick the meat out of the bones and refrigerate it in a separate container with carrots and onion. Discard the bones.
5. The next day, as you prepare to make your ramen, bring two cups of the broth to a simmer and season with kosher salt and soy sauce to taste.

For the ramen:
1. Add noodles to simmering broth and cook for 3–4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up chopped leaf lard in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, rendering fat. Fry egg—seasoning with salt and pepper—until white is set but yolk is still runny.
2. To serve, ladle noodles into each bowl, draining excess broth. Top with fried egg, scallions, reserved pork from neck bones, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve!

For the summer stir-fry:
1. Heat up a large skillet to medium-high. Add chopped leaf lard and cook for five minutes, pushing down on lard to render fat. Set aside lard.
2. Add zucchini, tomatoes, and onions to skillet, drizzle with sesame seed oil, and cook, stirring, until golden brown.
3. Serve alongside ramen.

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