Italian Bar Snacks

Earlier this year, Hubby and I visited Charcut, a restaurant here in Calgary which is partially owned and run by Connie DeSousa, who was a finalist on season 1 of Top Chef Canada a couple of years ago.  I had wanted to eat there ever since I saw her on that show (did I mention that I am an avid Food Network viewer even if most of the food is not paleo?).  Anyway, since my birthday is in May, I decided that he was going to take me out to dinner there.  Since then, we have eaten there several times.

The food is incredible!  We had bone marrow with toast (I know the toast is not technically paleo, but it does help transfer the bone marrow to your mouth).  A hint here, order more than one bone marrow – one between 2 is not enough.  I am not sure even one per person is really enough!  We also ordered the Charcut board – a board filled with all different types of charcuterie, made to share.  And we had sousvide pork belly.  And cheesecake in a jar for desert (Again, non-paleo but totally delicious).

And as an amuse-bouche when we first sat down, they brought us “Italian Bar Snacks” – which they described to us as pork jerkey.

It was porky, salty, and tasted of garlic, citrus and fennel.  Delicious!  And since then I have been trying to recreate it using some of the side of pork we buy from Spragg’s Meat Shop.  I feel confident that it is safe to eat this pork dehydrated and not cooked, not only because it is the same meat that Connie deSousa uses at Charcut, but also because it is incredible quality, pasture raised meat.

Anyway, this is the recipe for the latest attempt.

Italian Bar Snacks (aka Pork Jerkey)

Makes 65-75 pieces

*Please note, this recipe uses raw, uncooked and dehydrated pork – I am happy making and consuming it because I am confident about the quality of the pork I buy.  I would only recommend you make this if you can source some really good quality, free-range, pastured pork.  Definitely not one to make with grocery store pork!

1 1/2lb thin cut pork (I used the pork schnitzel that came with our side of pork)

1 tbsp whole fennel seed

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

a good grating of black pepper

zest and juice of 2 lemons

Take the pork and cut it into long thin strips.  The ones we ate at Charcut were very much thinner than normal jerkey almost as wide as they were thick and very long a good 6-8″ long.  The ones I cut today were about half an inch thick but not as long, only about 3-4 inches long as I was limited by the size of the pieces of meat.

Put the fennel, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon zest in a food processor and whizz it up to break up the seeds.  It is OK if it is a little bit coarse still.  Pour this mixture over the pork, add the lemon juice and mix well with your hands.

Put in the fridge to marinate for a while to allow the pork to absorb all the flavours.  The lemon juice will also “cook” the pork a little – kind of like pork ceviche.

After a couple of hours, place the pork in a dehydrator (I guess you could possible dry this out in an oven set at the lowest possible temperature as well, but I use my Excalibur Food Dehydrator that I bought me for my birthday).  I set the dehydrator at 68C/155F for making jerkey and it will dehydrate fairly quickly – a few hours is all it needs as the slices are so thin.

Nom with a cold drink….

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