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Cathal Armstrong


Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 706-0450

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Cathal Armstrong
Restaurant Eve | Washington DC


Irish Chef Cathal Armstrong crossed the pond at 22, after his two-year tenure at The Baytree in the Dublin suburbs. Armstrong has been in DC for the last fifteen years, learning the fundamentals with DC greats Jeffrey Buben of Bistro Bis and Greg Mitchell of New Heights. But the inspiration for Armstrong’s Modern American cuisine with Irish, French and Spanish influences began much earlier for Armstrong. Raised in a food-loving Irish family that grew their own fruits and vegetables and cooked with a then unheard-of amount of garlic, Armstrong was launched into the cultures and cuisines of neighboring European countries through the family’s travel business. The respect and love for farms developed in his childhood has carried over into Armstrong’s philosophy at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria which he opened with wife Meshelle. Armstrong’s self-described “pork fetish” and the Irish roots at the base of his culinary experience are showcased in decadent but playful dishes like Bacon, Egg, and Cheese. The dish makes full use of the versatility of pork fat with a cured and braised pork belly, seared to order, a tender crepe with ham and leeks, and rich golden cheddar foam.

 

Bacon, Egg and Cheese
Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve – Washington, D.C.
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

    Bacon:
  • 1 ounce salt
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt
  • ½ ounce light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry sage
  • 2 pounds fresh pork belly, skin on
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprigs of thyme and rosemary
  • Pork stock, to cover

    Crêpe Filling:
  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprigs of thyme and rosemary
  • Pork stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme, chopped

    Crêpes:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • Extra butter for sautéing

    Cheddar Foam:
  • 3 ounces grated cheddar
  • Hot water to cover, approximately 190ºF
  • 1 teaspoon lecithin

    Garnish:
  • 4 farm fresh egg yolks, poached

Method:
For the Bacon:
Mix the salt, pink salt, sugar and dry spices together in a bowl. Rub the mixture into the fresh pork belly, and place it in a non-reactive container. Cover and refrigerate for 14 days. Turn the pork everyday. After 14 days, wash the pork and refrigerate uncovered for 12 hours to air dry.

Carefully remove the skin and cut the pork into 4 equal portions. Place the carrot, leek, onion, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary in a roasting pan and place the portions of pork on top. Cover with pork stock and braise at 250ºF for about 2 hours, or until fork tender. Allow the pork to cool completely in the liquid. Once cooled, remove it from the pan and pat it dry with a towel. Strain the braising liquid and reduce it to sauce consistency, skimming often. Reserve sauce for plating.

For the Crêpe Filling:
Preheat oven to 200ºF. Brown the pork shoulder in a sauté pan. Place in a roasting pan and surround the meat with the carrots, leeks, onions and herbs. Fill the pan to half way up the pork shoulder with pork stock. Cover with foil and braise for about 12 hours or until fork tender, basting often. Allow the pork to cool completely in the liquid. Remove the pork from the liquid, strain the liquid and reduce to a glaze. Pull the meat from the shoulder using a fork, as you would for barbeque, and fold it into the glaze. Season with salt, pepper and fresh chopped thyme to taste.

For the Crêpes:
Sift the flour and salt into a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and milk together. Whisk egg mixture into the flour mixture and then whisk in the melted butter. Strain the crêpe batter though a fine mesh sieve. Heat a 9 inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Put a little butter in the pan and ladle approximately 1 ounce of the batter into the pan. Sauté on both sides until golden brown. Repeat until you have 4 crepes.

For the Cheddar Foam:
Place the grated cheddar in a pot and cover it with hot water. Let stand for ½ hour. Strain the liquid and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pot, add the lecithin and bring to a simmer. Reduce by approximately one quarter. Use an immersion blender to create a foam on the surface.

To Assemble and Serve:
Fill each crêpe with some of the crêpe filling and fold into an envelope. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of the reserved sauce into the bottom of a shallow bowl. Place the pork belly in the bowl with a stuffed crêpe beside it. Top each crêpe with a poached egg yolk and finish with a Tablespoon of cheddar foam.

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  •    Published: October 2006

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