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Bündok's Bacon Fat Popcorn with Apple Salt
We weren't surprised when chef Ryan Hotchkiss' downtown Edmonton eatery Bündok was recently named one of Canada's top ten new restaurants by enRoute; we are still smacking our lips at the memory of the incredible five-course Swine & Dine chef Hotchkiss and his culinary team shared back in April. We were delighted to see chef Hotchkiss at this year's Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge where he shared tips and tricks from Bündok's kitchen, including ways his culinary team do their best to reduce food waste - including dehydrating shaved apple peel and saving rendered bacon fat. We can assure you, thanks to chef Hotchkiss' Bacon Fat Popcorn with Apple Salt, recycling never tasted so good. This recipe yields four cups of popped corn:

What you’ll need…

3 apples worth of apple peel 3 Tbsp sugar 1⁄2 tsp salt 2 Tbsp bacon fat 1 cup popcorn seeds

Directions:

FOR APPLE SALT: Place all apple peels on a sheet pan lined with parchment and dehydrate at 175F until dry, approx. 4-6 hours. Combine with salt and sugar. FOR POPCORN: Warm bacon fat in pot until just about smoking. Add popcorn and continue to shake the pan while keeping the lid on. Cook until all popcorn has been popped. Top with Apple Salt.
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Recap: Swine and Dine with Drift at the Shamrock Curling Club
I started my rookie curling season at the Shamrock Curling Club last year, which also marked the first year Drift Food Truck owners Nevin and Kara Fenske moved indoors to offer their menu for the winter season. Since they now had access to a larger kitchen than the food truck, tables, chairs, and the Shamrock lounge upstairs, it wasn't long before I was frequently pestering them about when they were going to host a Swine and Dine. My persistence paid off, and last week the Shamrock played host to the latest Edmonton Swine and Dine dinner, marking the first time the event had ever been held at a curling club.   [caption id="attachment_76229" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo courtesy of Diane @argenplath[/caption] It was no surprise that the 34 seats for their inaugural Swine and Dine sold out quickly. At $45 per person, we were treated to a hearty Drift portioned, four-course family-style dinner featuring Alberta pork from appetizer to dessert. I can assure you - no one left the event hungry. The Drift pork belly sandwich is a legendary item on the food truck scene in Edmonton, so I always felt that Drift would be a good fit for a Swine and Dine event. Since they use a lot of pork products in their dishes, and they enjoy collaborating, Nevin and Kara agreed. [caption id="attachment_76195" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Thursday night league action at the Shamrock Curling Club[/caption] When we arrived we took our outside shoes off at the front door and headed up stairs to the lounge. Diners were assigned seating among four tables and welcomed by our gracious hosts for the evening Nevin and Kara. The Thursday ladies league kicked off, providing free entertainment with our all pork menu.

1st course: Pork Rillettes - crostini, house pickles

The first course of the evening was a bit of a departure from the classic Drift fare and a surprise for me, until Nevin told me that he was a classically trained French chef, and that he and Kara had spent time in France (and both love the cuisine). To kick things off, each diner received a generous portion of pork rillettes. Similar in texture to pâté, but not pâté, pork rillettes is a spread made from meat that is cooked slowly in fat, shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste. Nevin served his version, which just happened to be my favourite dish of the evening, with baguettes and some of Drift's house-made pickles.   [caption id="attachment_76228" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo courtesy of Cindy @letsomnom[/caption]

2nd course: Roasted Vegetable & Prosciutto Salad, Potato & Pork Croquettes

Our next course was a double helping of veggies with a dose of bacon and prosciutto. Roasted kabocha squash and a balsamic vinaigrette sweetened up Drift's savoury kale, prosciutto and pumpkin seed salad. And, staying true to the heart of food-truck cuisine, Nevin knew he wanted to fry something. While Drift does serve croquettes, Nevin had never made them with pork before. He had some fun experimenting and came up with what he calls a solid recipe. Looking at the empty croquettes plates that were sent back to the kitchen, I would have to agree with him. [caption id="attachment_76230" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo courtesy of Cindy @letsomnom[/caption]  

3rd course: Roast Pork Loin & Belly, roasted potato, cider-braised cabbage, pureed carrots, pickled green beans

  When it came to the main course, Nevin knew he wanted to serve a fun - family style meal. Inspired by his time working in a kitchen in Ireland, our Drift Swine & Dine main course was reminiscent of a Sunday pub dinner with all the fixings. I love eating family style, which allowed each of us to sneak a larger portion of items we liked, or so Ukrainians like myself could take extra servings of the braised cabbage (made with what I am told is extra special homemade cider).  

4th course: Apple & Bacon Fritters - apple pie liqueur glaze

Nevin told me he had never cooked with pork in a dessert, but he knew dessert was definitely going to be fried. He experimented with a fritter batter and came up with apple & bacon fritters. The sauce, an apple pie liqueur glaze, was made extra special with a little bacon fat. The atmosphere of being in a curling club paired with the casual fun food presented by Kara & Nevin made for a Swine and Dine I will never forget. For those who are loyal followers of Drift - you know the food is made from scratch with care. Kara and Nevin are two very hard working entrepreneurs, and you can feel the love in the food they share. Many in attendance said it was their favourite Swine and Dine to date. I'd like to give a special thanks to Cindy and Diane for attending and letting me share some of their photos.  On behalf of Alberta Pork and the Passion for Pork initiative - I'd like to thank Nevin & Kara as well as Chris at the Shamrock, for hosting what I hope is their first of many Swine and Dine dinners. After the holiday break the club is heading into heavy bonspeil season, so while I don't have an upcoming Drift Swine and Dine date to announce, you can always stop by the club for some free curling entertainment and a bite of Drift. Stay tuned to their social media accounts for updates on special events, and remember you can be sure that pork will always be on the menu at the Drift Concession at the Shamrock. Drift Food Truck & Eatery at the SHAMROCK CURLING CLUB 9330 - 80 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta  T6C 0T9
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Recipe: Chef Michael Olson's Sausage Patties
Chef Michael Olson's recipe for sausage patties will satisfy any hankering you may have for sausage muffins, but without having to go through the drive thru. Pick up a pack of English muffins and set the table up with a variety of condiments for a build-you-own sausage patty brunch. These can be served as-is with a side of kettle chips and condiments such as maple mustard, or put into a small bun for a quick snack. Chef Olson's tip - stop by your local butcher for freshly ground, locally sourced pork. You'll be able to taste the difference.

What you’ll need…

Makes 6 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes (450g) 1 lb ground pork (45 mL) 3 Tbsp finely chopped dried cranberries (30 mL) 2 Tbsp maple syrup (2 mL) 1⁄2 tsp dried sage (5 mL) 1 tsp salt (5 mL) 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (5 mL) 1 tsp rye whiskey (60 mL) 1⁄4 cup cold water

Directions:

In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir the ground pork with the dried cranberries, maple syrup, sage, salt, pepper and rye whiskey – if mixing by hand, using your hands works best. Drizzle in the cold water while mixing and make sure it is fully incorporated. Cover and chill until ready to cook. Divide the meat mixture into 6 even portions and flatten with your hands while between plastic wrap or in a re-sealable bag that has been cut open along the sides (this is more durable). To cook the patties, heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add the patties, leaving an inch (2.5 cm) between them. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until firm and the juices run clear.  
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