40 Hour Pork Belly Confit Two Ways With Glazed Carrots

So I like to cook. I like kitchen gadgets. I love shit like this. And I really love pork belly. So after a rather fantastic meal at Second Bar + Kitchen here in Austin, where I indulged in a dish that included amazing pork belly and sous vide eggs, I thought it time to nail down a great pork belly recipe here at home.

Got myself just over a pound of pork belly at Whole Paycheck and proceeded to come up with a cure similar to the recipe here.

It went into the refrigerator looking pretty much like this (even though this is after the next steps):

After 12 hours overnight, I pulled the pork out, rinsed off the salt, sealed it in a bag, and sous vided (its a verb now, damnit) the thing at 144*F for 40 hours. After the 40 hour mark I cooled it between weighted cookie sheets because you don’t want it to curl. When I removed it from the fridge, it looked near as makes no difference to what you see above.

After cooling, I had to scrape off the tasty tasty fat, so the dull knife edge and some scraping left my dogs very happy and a pork belly looking pretty limp:

So the belly when back in a bag into a 140*F bath to warm up. All the while I had carrots in the sous vide at 183*F with butter oil and 21 calories of DEADLY WHITE SUGAR! THROW ME OFF PALEO ISLAND! Also I made a gastrique with a tasty little ingredient:

Likely not good enough for Richard

After the carrots were done, the belly went into a pan with high oleic sunflower oil, was browned on all sides, and plated. Thus we ended up with this:

So what I did for the blob of pork was cut a chunk of the pork belly off, fork shredded it, and whipped it. Could have used a bit more shredding and cooling. but it’s called a rillette.

Anyway Sarah couldn’t tell me enough times how much she loved it; I thought it came out pretty good, certainly up to par with the pork belly I had earlier in the week…perhaps better. The carrots came out really nice as well; the butter oil worked really well and didn’t cause Sarah any problems (she has a dairy allergy).

It seems like a hell of a lot of work but I really only “cooked” for about an hour. It was pretty f’n rico, if I do say so myself.

PaleoFX 2012 Presentation

So in case you’ve been living under a rock, the largest, most-practical paleo event ever put together, with the greatest minds (and most importantly, characters) of the ancestral health community assembled in one location is coming next month: PaleoFX 2012!

Only if you're this guy do you get a pass for not knowing about PFX12

I’ll be involved in just about everything during the event: you’re going to hear my thoughts on longevity on the “Ancestral Wellness through the Decades” mastermind (our title for panel discussions), listen to me grill Erwan Le Corre on what machine did him wrong as a child as the moderator of the “Exercise vs. Activity” mastermind, and I’ll be roaming with a camera crew for off-the-cuff interviews of presenters and attendees alike throughout the event!

Also come check out my practical hands-on presentation: “Maximizing Paleo Fitness: Leveraging Technology For Total Metabolic Conditioning.” As I’ve mentioned about a gazillion times, doing “paleo” is not about mimicry but rather it’s about using our evolutionary past as a template to ask questions. Those questions allow for scientific experimentation to create better answers; it shouldn’t make you afraid of peppers. That said, at Efficient Exercise we use a lot of cutting-edge technology to quickly get at the intensity of effort demanded on an intermittent basis of our ancestors. This expressions your genetic potential for lean, athletic, disease-resistant health. I’ll be presenting some of this unique technology and taking the brave through a few rounds of EE-style beatdown. Here’s a preview of on of our special devices:

It looks like an abduction but its so much more.

This wonderful device gets enough glute activation to make the Glute guy salivate. If you’re brave enough, you’ll feel your glutes long after you’ve returned home!

Wait, you’ve not signed up to come to PaleoFX? Really?! Get your tickets now!

Your Bones Are Not A Coat Rack

Your average gym goer is under the false assumption that your skeleton is merely a coat rack for your flesh. Those of us who have a little more education understand that bones are living tissue and, not unlike how our flesh displays to the world our activity and fitness (or total lack thereof), our bones are now showing us just how fit you are.

I’m not talking just about density. While total bone density is certainly something all of us should strive for (men get osteoperosis too), our bones are constantly remodeling due to our activity. Stronger muscles not only increase the density of bone, due to the fact that your bones actually bend when you’re training and remodel to not bend as much, but bone is also an endocrine organ, secreting various proteins that provide a marker of bone health and, as recent research suggests, rate of muscular usage.


Osteocalcin is a protein found in bone and dentin, secreted solely by the osteoblasts, and is used as a serum signal of bone growth. This nifty little protein also functions as a hormone in the body, telling the beta cells to release more insulin and adipose tissue to release more adiponectin, increasing insulin sensitivity.

While doing some fun researchy-type stuff yesterday, I got nose-deep in reading about how osteocalcin is inversely related to fat mass and plasma glucose in elderly men. And if you dig into the research, there’s a whole boatload of other studies showing just how serum osteocalcin is associated with metabolic syndrome and fat mass. Inversely related in fact.

Now understand that this isn’t some “new leptin,” which is to say a magic bullet: no amount of osteoblast infusions are going to decrease fat mass and metabolic syndrome. Rather, reference what I was talking about earlier that osteocalcin is secreted during bone remodeling and it’s not a far leap to make that this is a serum maker of significant physical activity. If you’re doing something strenuous enough to increase bone remodeling, even if it’s not exercise but an active life, you’re less likely to have metabolic syndrome. You’re using more of the glucose you’re taking in. You’re not storing as much as fat.

Your bones are not a tissue rack and osteocalcin is another indicator of not only how active an organ it is but also of how active an animal you are.

Eggs, Protein Usage, And You.

Who am I and what have I done with Skyler?

In addition to being insanely busy with grad school and doing things like hiking out to Los Angeles to check in on our studio-in-a-skyscraper, I’ve just not been as motivated to write as I’ve been in the past. I figured out why: I took myself too seriously. By that I mean that, when I said I was going to do a research review, I got all Alan Aragon about the whole thing. Alan is a great guy but I don’t think, write, or talk like Alan so why should my research reviews sound like his?

If you wanted dry science you can go to other blogs for that. I like to inform in the context of stories and metaphors. I don’t even talk in words and sentences in real life but rather in stories and parables. Really, ask my wife.

Does that mean you’re not getting a research review? Not at all; in fact I have to write a damn 10 page research review for a research methods class. I’ll just post the thing up here when I’m done. It might not cover all 10 topics of the biomarkers of fitness through aging but it will cover a whole lot of them. Anything left will get a couple blog posts because I find it all so very fascinating, if only for selfish, selfish reasons.

So what does this all have to do with eggs?

Keith and I were having a discussion the other day about a workout day shake that I’ve been making, “Food in a Blender, “ which comes from the dirty wino Dallas of the Whole9 fame. The recipe calls for raw eggs and Keith cited the fact that raw egg protein is not as bio-available on the whole compared to just the yolk, likely because of a nasty little inhibitor of the digestive enzyme trypsin. He clearly got this from Chris Masterjohn, which I know because he told me.

Masterjohn is right that in the particular study shows a drastic decrease in protein utilization of raw eggs versus cooked eggs. A ~49% decrease in protein absorbed versus ingested is a huge number. Here’s the thing about studies: they can be repeated and refined and that’s what the same researchers did the following year. The second time around the researchers found only a 35% of the protein escaped digestion when raw compared to 5% cooked. Still a lot of protein lost but here’s the thing: a yolk averages 2.7g of protein while the white averages 3.6g of protein.

To put it another way, would you rather have 65% of the possible available protein or 95% of only 46% of the available protein? Even if the white does inhibit some of the protein absorption it is not enough of a problem using the figures from either study (e.g. 90% of 46% of the protein vs. 51% of 100% of the protein) to go through the hassle of separating the white from the yolk. As an aside, I get a load of biotin in my diet; I’m not worried about 2 meals a week being negatively affected by avidin to try to avoid egg whites raw for this reason either.

In short: get good eggs from a great source and if you decide to knock them back raw know you’re still getting more complete protein than you would be ditching the white.