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Monday, July 25, 2011

Stomachs Eleven: Bone marrow, pig's trotters Pierre Koffmann and truffled hens

If you ever have a bone to pick with someone, make sure it's a marrow bone. It was this sight of marrow bone towers that excited me most when I arrived at the home of Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' for our latest Stomachs Eleven adventure.

Appetisers to start

The members of our merry dining crew have all been terribly spoilt by the generosity of Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin'. Our original aim was to rotate as hosts for roving dinner parties, but lately it's all been about Chez Pig. Pig Flyin cooks with such selfless generosity and unparalleled effort that we can never resist another invite. And it always beggars belief that Pig Flyin' is an entirely self-taught cook who works in IT.

Surprises in the kitchen

What's most impressive about a dinner with the Pig Flyin's is how organised they are: every dish has been pre-thought with multiple components ready and prepped. Dinner service operates like a well-oiled machine, and by the time we finish one course, there's only a ten-minute wait until the next one. We all take turns to wander in to help, and there's never a sense of panic - just relaxed joviality that puts everyone at ease.

Ortiz anchovies on toast with homemade onion jam

A platter of Ortiz anchovies on toast make for the perfect canape for arriving guests to nibble on. Pig Flyin' had picked up a tin of these premium hand-filleted sardines at the recent Simon Johnson sale, and the flesh and tasty of these was superb - delicately firm and gently salted. Pig Flyin' served these with his homemade onion jam, adding sweetness.

Ortiz Filetto di acciughe del Cantabrico in Olio di Oliva

Homemade brioche with foie gras torchon and mustard fruits 'fascinator'

Slices of homemade brioche stuffed with foie gras torchon were an impressive sight. Inspired by this dish from Next restaurant by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, Pig Flyin' had spent several days and attempts trying to recreate this dish. To stuff the brioche, they used small pieces of wooden dowel to make a hole inside the bread. Mrs Pig Flyin' laughed as she described their trip to Bunnings where they had to work out the best-sized dowel to buy, and how they convinced staff to cut each piece into shorter lengths.

The foie gras was whipped and then transferred to a piping bag to pipe into the hollowed-out brioche. A 'fascinator' of mustard fruits provided the ideal complement to this rich mouthful.

Foie gras with apple two ways and foie gras 'snow'

Foie gras snow is what you get when a block of frozen foie gras and a grater meet. It was a late-minute inspired idea by Pig Flyin' when he realised he had forgotten to defrost the foie gras, but it works brilliantly, melting on the tongue like the fluffiest snowflake.

Beneath the foie gras snow we found cubes of buttery foie gras and two styles of apple: tiny apple cubes and wobbly apple jelly. I am not lying when I said people were fighting to lick the serving plate clean. I was one of them.

Roasted bone marrow with smoked salt and parsley salad

I've always loved bone marrow - is that not the sole reason to eat osso bucco so you can score the marrow prize? Roasted bone marrow has always been on the menu at the famed St John by Fergus Henderson but Pig Flyin' assures me you don't have to travel to London to savour this dish.

To roast bone marrows, Pig Flyin' suggests you clean the bones as much as you can and then soak them in cold water in the fridge for a night to leech out any blood. Bake in a 180C-200C for about 25 minutes or until the marrow starts to pull away from the bone.

There are few things that will make you as giddy with joy as digging into a marrow bone and savouring the rich and fatty pleasures within.

Homemade mini brioche loaves with store-bought sourdough served with smoked butter

Spaghetti with mullet bottarga and a slow-cooked 65C egg

Bottarga is the word for cured fish roe and is sometimes known as the poor man's caviar. The entire roe pouch is dried and cured in sea salt for several weeks.

Grating the mullet bottarga over the spaghetti; whole smoked mullet roe bottarga

I was fascinated as I watched Pig Flyin' grate smoked mullet roe bottarga over freshly cooked spaghetti.

Spaghetti with mullet bottarga and a slow-cooked 65C egg

Spaghetti with mullet bottarga was simple yet elegant, a tangled nest of spaghetti drizzled generously with extra virgin olive oil and crumbs of mullet bottarga. The bottarga has a smoky saltiness, the hard little crumbs reminding me of salted duck yolks but fishy. On top is a slow-cooked 65C egg, and we break through the soft egg white to find a sticky runny yolk that coats the pasta deliciously.

Chestnut soup with confit duck and whipped smoked cream

Winter is the time for chestnuts but noone talks about how hard they are to peel. Chestnuts would feature in two of our dishes tonight and Mrs Pig Flyin' confesses she spent six hours over two days peeling chestnuts in front of the television!

The chestnut soup is glossy and silky and incredibly fragrant. An island of whipped smoked cream provides a touch of luxury, and at the bottom of our cups we find shreds of rich confit duck.

Salad course with home-grown leaves from the garden

A salad course on its own seems a little unusual to Australian palates, but this is very common on French menus. We welcome the chance to clean our palates, especially when we realise most of the salad greens -- curly watercress, rocket, fennel fronds and radicchio -- have come straight from the backyard garden.

Pig's trotters Pierre Koffmann with king oyster mushrooms and confit chestnut

It's about this point we are starting to feel our bellies distend and yet still the onslaught of incredible dishes continues. The Pig's trotters Pierre Koffman is a signature dish by Pierre Koffman that was adapted and made famous by Marco Pierre White at Harvey's in 1980s. This dish is a test of patience and endurance, involving braised trotters that are deboned and then stuffed with sweetbreads, morels and chicken mousse.

To say this dish was amazing would be a gross understatement. If you want to see how the process on how this is made, you can watch Marco Pierre White cooking this dish for Raymond Blanc here (fast foward to the six minute mark and continue with part two). You can also check out the step-by-step attempt by food blogger, Trotters and Tales.

Three shades of white: braised fennel, baby turnip and baby leeks

Our vegetables were a tribute to winter, with three shades of white provided by braised fennel, baby turips and baby leeks. These were all cooked sous vide, a process that Pig Flyin' says is ideal for speed and efficiency.

Poussins en demi-deuil en-croute - truffled hens cooked in crust

Oh yes, it didn't stop there. Mains were an alternate drop, and while half the table received the pig's trotter, the other half was gifted with a truffled hen parcel.

Spatchcock stuffed with WA truffles

Inside the dough crust was a spatchcock stuffed with West Australian truffles. The crust, Pig Flyin' explained, helps to keep in the truffle aroma, and creates a juicier cooked bird. The only difficulty they encountered was trying to the keep the truffles in one piece as they were pushed down beneath the skin.

Truffle-stuffed spatchcock with mashed potato and baby turnips

The spatchcock was succulent, moist and deliriously decadent with truffle. We even nibbled on the dough crust and found it to be tasty too.

Apple tarte tatin

Dessert was apple tarte tatin, cooked ahead of time and waiting patiently on the side counter. Caramelised apples and flaky pastry are a match made in heaven.

Canelés homemade by Mr Egg

A plate of canelés were handed around and I admit I didn't believe it at first when I told they were made by Mr Egg. Canelés are one of my favourite treats, custardy baked pastries with a dark and chewy caramelised crust. The mixture is made from milk, flour, sugar, rum and vanilla.

These were better than any I've had before, with a thick sweet crust that demanded to be slowly savoured.

Beetroot pate de fruit

Beetroot pate de fruit were made on a whimsy by Pig Flyin' (as you do) when he picked up a heap of beetroot on special. The beetroots were juiced, combined with pectin and then poured into molds until set. The jellies were dipped in sugar just before serving, and the beetroot flavour in these came out remarkably well, a compelling mix of earthiness with sweetness.

Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese with charred fresh dates, vanilla-poached tamarillo, 
green apple straws, mustard fruits, nasturtium leaves and rosemary flowers

We finish with two cheese boards, each presented with the artistic flair of a hatted Sydney restaurant. Fourme d'Ambert is a striking blue cheese, one of France's oldest that is said to have originated in Roman times. The piquancy of the blue marries brilliantly with fresh dates, charred with a blow torch so it is caramelised and smoky.

Whipped Saint Angel triple cream brie with Italian artisan crackers,
green apple straws, mustard fruits, brioche crumbs and nasturtium flowers

I'm also enamoured by the Saint Angel triple cream brie, whipped until light and fluffy. We take our time to enjoy the brie on crunchy shards of artisan crackers, sweetened with green apple straws and nuggets of chopped mustard fruits.

Thank you Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin'. My stomach salutes you.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Thai dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas Dinner 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L) 
28 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/25/2011 02:52:00 am


  • At 7/25/2011 3:52 am, Anonymous Lola (Figs and Brie) said…

    OH MY GOD OH MY GOD, this all is so amazing and I am so insanely jealous! Lusting after that pasta and marrow and truffled spatchcock in particular, Jesus Christ. And the foie gras!

  • At 7/25/2011 6:15 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    I love bone marrow too! They are really sweet, IMO!

  • At 7/25/2011 8:24 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    These Stomachs Eleven posts are always so thrilling to read! As soon as I saw the title pop up in my reader I was so eager to click through. As someone who is a mess when it comes to hosting dinners, I can only sit back in awe of Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin'. Everything looks AMAZING!

  • At 7/25/2011 9:05 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love love love your Stomachs Eleven posts. It makes me happy to see "normal" people to cook up such wonderful meals.

  • At 7/25/2011 9:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love love love your Stomachs Eleven posts. It makes me happy to see "normal" people to cook up such wonderful meals.

  • At 7/25/2011 9:12 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    This is insanely stunning restaurant level food. The homemade brioche stuffed with foie gras torchon is just delightful - and I always love a fascinator :)

  • At 7/25/2011 9:51 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw those spatchcocks stuffed with truffles... AMAZING!

  • At 7/25/2011 10:23 am, Anonymous Chris said…

    Wow, what a feast. Can we make it stomach's 12 so I can join in? =)

  • At 7/25/2011 11:44 am, Blogger K said…

    Another great post! I always find it amusing that after dining at Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin's place, the same dishes appear a few weeks/months later on a popular television show or magazine etc. Pig Flyin is so ahead of the trend!

  • At 7/25/2011 12:17 pm, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    Love love love!!!! That spatchcock??? *drooool*!! What a great meal - I'd be so full and content. Stretchy pants needed!

  • At 7/25/2011 1:24 pm, Blogger Viv said…

    truffle spatchcock + caneles......amazing! it's amazing to see these dishes served AT HOME and not in some fancy restaurants! totally inspired me today :)

  • At 7/25/2011 2:18 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I honestly thought the appetizers were going to be the most longed-for for me, but then I kept reading and even the meatier dishes shone out through the clever addition of my beloved chestnuts! mostly, though, that cheeseplate soars into my soul and nestles there, keening for reality...

    Stomachs Eleven (and Pig Flyin) triumphs again

  • At 7/25/2011 2:49 pm, Blogger irene said…

    I seriously cannot believe that's home cooking I just read. my God.

  • At 7/25/2011 7:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Pig Flyin' should be Australia's next Masterchef!

  • At 7/26/2011 12:58 am, Blogger Janine said…

    I have been waiting for your Stomachs Eleven post with great eagerness - I cannot believe that all the dishes in this post are the result of home cooking! Seriously out of this world. And I just LOVE the mini brioche loaves. Spectacular!

  • At 7/26/2011 1:16 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    I love reading your Stomachs Eleven feasts. Pig Flyin' is awesome! Bravo for putting on a spectacular meal for us to envy once again!

  • At 7/26/2011 1:41 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    that is INSANE. everything. is just insane.

  • At 7/26/2011 6:16 pm, Anonymous Mr Lonely said…

    walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

  • At 7/26/2011 8:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So how many days did it take Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' to make all this! Beautiful and Amazing! Bone marrow and parsley salad is one of my favourites which I'm planning to make soon.

  • At 7/27/2011 10:13 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    Absolutely magnificent!!
    How long does he take to make these meals? It's just unbelievable how talented he is!
    Pig Flyn' should enter Masterchef, I'm sure he would win : )

  • At 7/27/2011 1:45 pm, Anonymous Joseph said…

    Wow. The marrow. The spatchcock. Just. Wow.

  • At 7/27/2011 11:11 pm, Blogger TheHungryMonkee said…

    Why dont I have frens who cook like yours???? SIGH!!! I wanna eat the food!!

  • At 7/28/2011 10:22 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Everything is WOW!Love a nicely cooked bone marrow!

  • At 7/28/2011 12:55 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    I am just amazed that you had this whole extravaganza at someone's house! Just brilliant Helen! I don't know what to love first...

  • At 7/28/2011 5:54 pm, Blogger Dressed and Eaten said…

    Another wow. What a treat. Love all effort they have gone to. Love the stomachs eleven posts. He definitely needs to apply for Masterchef!

  • At 7/29/2011 7:35 am, Anonymous em said…

    first time commenter, long time lurker....had to de-lurk to say bravo!! the Pig Flyin duo is amazing!!!

  • At 8/17/2011 8:16 am, Anonymous Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said…

    Bravo! What an amazing drool worthy feast! I reckon (and I reckon I'm not the first to reckon) that Pig Flyin really puts most MasterChef contestants to severe shame.

  • At 3/25/2013 1:24 pm, Anonymous MsBrulee (Kelly) said…

    I read the trotters recreation by Trotters and Tales and am so taken aback at how much work Mr Pig Flyin did to put it on the table - candied beetroot? Genius.


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