We’re undergoing a bit of a culinary revolution here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you’ve never lived in a city while it experiences such a thing, let me tell you: it’s a fun time to be a foodie! It seems like a new restaurant is opening every week with a new dish added every day.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is meeting all the interesting new chefs that have moved their talents to Myrtle Beach. As my family made plans to gather for Easter and I started piecing together an entertaining menu, I called on one of my favorite newcomers, Chef Joe Bonaparte of the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach.
Even in the midst of building a massive new structure for his program – it opens in August and will house bakery and patisserie laboratories, a nutrition lab, production and training kitchens, a greenhouse, a wine cellar, a state-of-the-art Barbeque Center, and much more – he took the time to share some of his go-to appetizers that are sure to please a crowd. They’re all a little bit Low Country with a fun twist. Enjoy!
A satisfying twist on the original that also makes use of the season’s go-to items.
6 large hard-boiled eggs
2 c juice from pickled beets
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 T black peppercorn or melange of peppercorn
1 t sea salt
1 t maielle dijon mustard or any dijon
1 T mayonnaise
1/2 t curry powder
1 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
Combine juice from pickled beets with vinegar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Stir to dissolve. Place eggs in the brine for 16 hours or until a perfect ring forms around the egg. Split the eggs in half length wise.
Remove yolks and mix with mayonnaise, dijon, white balsamic vinegar, curry and olive oil. Adjust seasonings as needed. Pipe or spoon the mixture into the center of the eggs and serve.
Crisp Pork Belly on Cheddar Crackers
What a fun way to serve pork! The bite-size morsels pack a savory punch that is sure to impress.
2-3 lbs fresh pork belly
4 T kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 T freshly cracked black pepper
1 T minced fresh gingerroot
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 T minced fresh rosemary
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh sage leaves
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
3-4 c apple juice or fresh apple cider
1-2 c chicken stock or water
Cheddar-mustard crackers (see recipe)
Mix salt, sugar, pepper, ginger, garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage. Rub all over the pork belly, coating it well. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap the pork and rinse off the seasoning mix. Dry with paper towels.
Place the sliced onions, carrots and celery in a roasting pan with the pork in the center. Add enough apple juice or cider to come halfway up the pork. Add enough stock or water to come 3/4 of the way up the meat. Cover the meat with parchment paper and cover the pan tightly with heavy duty foil and a lid.
Place in the oven and cook about 6 hours, or until very tender. Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Carefully remove the pork belly from the cooking liquid, lifting from the bottom with spatulas. Place it on the paper-lined pan with another sheet of parchment on top. Place another pan on top and weigh it down with several pounds (such as heavy cans). Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove from refrigerator. Remove weights and peel off the paper. Slice the firm pork belly into 1-by-2-inch cubes. Place in a skillet over medium-high heat and sear, turning carefully with tongs, until browned and crisped on all sides.
Note the cooking liquid can be strained and used for another recipe, such as soup.
For the Crackers:
Recipe makes about 4 dozen crackers that are tasty to keep on hand for entertaining.
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb sharp cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor; 5 cups)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 t Dijon mustard
2 T dry mustard
2 T brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 t salt
2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
Blend butter, cheese and egg yolk in a food processor until smooth. Add mustards, salt and flour and pulse until just combined. Transfer the soft dough to a bowl. Cover and chill 15 minutes.
Halve the dough and shape into 12-inch logs on a lightly floured surface. Wrap in wax paper and foil and chill until firm (at least 4 hours). Dough can be frozen for several months and defrosted in the refrigerator before slicing.
Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Unwrap logs and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife. Place slices on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake until lightly brown around edges, switching position of pans halfway through baking, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. Cool crackers and store in an airtight container.
Heirloom Tomato Juice Cocktail
A combination of meaty and sweet tomatoes provides a nice balance of flavors.
2 Mecklenberg tomatoes, quartered
2 Better Boy tomatoes, quartered
1 pint Sungold tomatoes, halved
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ t black pepper
Pinch celery salt
½ t worcestershire sauce
½ t tabasco sauce
Inner celery stalks, as needed
Lemon slices, halved, as needed
Place tomatoes in blender with lemon juice, pepper, celery salt, worcestershire and tabasco sauce. Puree. Strain the liquid and pour over ice. Garnish with a celery stalk and lemon slice. Serve with blue cheese crackers.