Vail Four Seasons chef Jason Harrison competing in Grand Cochon in Aspen
The Princess and Princes of Porc competing at Grand Cochon are:
1. Missy Robbins, New York
2. Ryan Smith, Empire State South, Atlanta
3. Jason Harrison, Flame at the Four Seasons Resort, Vail
4. Jason Franey, Canlis, Seattle
5. Michael Scelfo, Alden & Harlow, Boston
6. Mike Isabella, Graffiato, Washington, D.C.
7. Adam Sobel, RN74 – San Francisco
8. Aaron Brooks, Edge Steakhouse at the Four Seasons, Miami
9. Cosmo Goss, Publican Quality Meats, Chicago
10. Ray Garcia, Fig, Los Angeles
It’s fitting and proper that on Father’s Day, 10 of the country’s top chefs will combine the Two Great Elements of Guy Cuisine: meat and heat.
It’s the Grand Cochon and Chef Jason Harrison of Flame Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort in Vail will be among those 10 chefs competing. He won last year’s local cochon in Vail.
In a cochon competition, chefs and their cochon crews cook a pig from nose to tail. Everything that can be consumed must be cooked.
The Grand Cochon is one of the featured events at this weekend’s Aspen Food and Wine Festival.
Pig is delicious, but even more so when it’s in the hands of someone like Harrison and his Cochon Crew.
“It’s a collaborative effort from our entire food and beverage team, and we are thrilled to represent Four Seasons and Vail in Aspen,” Harrison said.
Harrison and his Cochon Crew earned the trip to the Grand Cochon as one of 10 regional winners.
“Anyone who knows my cooking recognizes my passion for all things pig, especially with our popular menu item, maple bacon doughnuts,” Harrison said. “I am proud to be a part of this event that supports heritage breed pig farming and responsible agriculture.”
Cochon was created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in 2009, responding to what he saw was a lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. Lowe took his show on the road for culinary competitions in 10 cities around the country. Fifty chefs prepare a “snout-to-tail” menu.
“It’s a dream to be competing against these 10 top chefs from all over the nation; we’re expecting to serve around 1200 pounds of pork this weekend,” Harrison said.
The 10 winners, including Harrison and his Cochon Crew, compete this weekend in Aspen. Charities have received more than $300,000, and more than $500,000 has gone directly to farmers across the country.
“More and more of us want to skip the processing and get our foods straight from the pasture, but we don’t always know how to get it, where to look, or what to ask for,” Lowe said.
For this weekend’s Grand Cochon, Vail Four Seasons Chef Jason Porchetta and His Cochon Crew are preparing porchetta, among other things. Porchetta
1 whole boneless, rind-on pork belly, about 12 to 15 pounds
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons whole fennel seed
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, sage, or thyme leaves
12 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 quarts peanut oil, lard, or a mixture (canola or vegetable oil will do fine)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place pork belly skin-side down on a large cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife, score flesh at an angle using strokes about 1-inch apart. Rotate knife 90 degrees and repeat to create a diamond pattern in the flesh.
Toast peppercorns and fennel seed in a small skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind until roughly crushed.
Season pork liberally with salt then sprinkle with crushed pepper and fennel, red pepper, chopped herbs, and microplaned garlic. Use your hands to rub the mixture deeply into the cracks and crevices in the meat.
Roll belly into a tight log and push to top of cutting board, seam-side down. Cut 12 to 18 lengths of kitchen twine long enough to tie around the pork and lay them down in regular intervals along your cutting board, about 1-inch apart each. Lay rolled pork seam-side down on top of strings. Working from the outermost strings towards the center, tie up roast tightly. Combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Rub mixture over entire surface of porchetta.
If roast is too large and unwieldy, carefully slice in half with a sharp chef’s knife. Seal in individual vacuum-sealed pouches and refrigerate at least overnight and up to three days. If desired, porchetta can also be frozen at this point for future use (see note).
Preheat sous-vide water cooker to 155°F (68.3°C). Add pork and cook for 72 hours. Transfer pork to a sink filled with ice water and chill for 15 minutes. Remove from bag then carefully peel off congealed exuded cooking liquid and place in a medium saucepan.
Rinse porchetta under hot running water until all excess fat and congealed juices are cleared from surface, then carefully dry with paper towels.
Heat oil over high heat in a large wok or Dutch oven to 400-degrees F. Carefully slide pork into oil using spatulas and tongs. (It will not be fully submerged). Immediately cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until sputtering dies a bit, about 2 minutes. Adjust flame to maintain consistent 350-degrees F temperature. Using a large metal ladle, spoon hot oil over the exposed portions of the roast continuously until the bottom half is cooked and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on second side, basting the whole time.
Remove porchetta to a large paper towel-lined plate and blot all over. Season with salt. Let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat bag juices over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the butter and swirl until smooth. If center of pork is still hot, carve and serve immediately. Otherwise, transfer to a 250-degree F oven until warmed through, then serve.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.