Thursday, August 06, 2009

Chef Recipe: Stephen Stryjewski's Pickled Watermelon Rind

Everything I adore about the pork-loving city of New Orleans can be summed up in Chef Donald Link and Chef Stephen Stryjewski's menu at Cochon.

The chefs host an in-house boucherie to create their own andouille, smoked bacon, and head cheese, but I am especially fond of their homemade pickle prowess.

The spicy, grilled pork ribs with diced watermelon pickle (pictured) are impetus enough to jump on and buy a ticket to Nola. Right. Now. While you're at it, don't miss Cochon Butcher too. This down-the-block spin-off is inspired by old world meat markets and features a wide range of house-made salumi and sausages. The Cochon muffaletta is always nestled in my purse for the plane ride home--that is, when I don't have time for a glass of wine and charcuterie at the "Swine Bar."

Special thanks to Chef Stryjewski, who graciously shared his pickled watermelon rind recipe with pickle girl:

4 qts prepared watermelon rind
3 T pickling lime
2 qts cold water
8 cups sugar
1 qt white vinegar
1 qt water
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Tie in a spice bag:
1 T whole cloves
1 T whole allspice
1 T whole coriander
¼ t mustard seed
1 large piece of ginger
3 sticks cinnamon

Day One:
1. Prepare the rind by removing the green outer skin and the pink interior and cut into 1” by 1” pieces.
2. Dissolve the lime in 2 gallons of water and add the rind allow to soak for 12 hours.

Day Two:
1. Drain and rinse the rind 3 times or until the water runs clear.
2. Add remaining ingredients to a non reactive pot and bring to a simmer
3. Add the rind and simmer over low to medium heat until the rind takes on a translucent appearance.
4. Can in water bath for 10 minutes.

pickle girl's two cents: the easiest way to prep the rind is to separate it from the flesh the way one would to segment a grapefruit. Using a sharp chef's knife, slice off just enough rind from the top and bottom of the melon to expose the flesh and allow the fruit to stand upright on the cutting board. Next, follow the contour of the fruit to slice away all rind in large pieces. Remove the green skin with a vegetable peeler, then slice into 1"-long batons.

You can use the watermelon flesh to make:
* watermelon gazpacho
* frozen watermelon-lime bars
* watermelon panzanella