Monday, August 13, 2012

This Could Be Interesting Recipe Night: Braised Pork Belly with Mustard Wine Sauce…or…The Five Hour Sandwich

Hi Everybody, I proudly celebrate the return of the Wonderful World of Clutter with a new semi-not-so-regular feature of personally recipes that will be called This Could Be Interesting Recipe Night.  The premise is simple. I try making something without a cookbook and I then post my recipe to you the readers. 

I never really use measurements when I cook, so some of these are guesses. But here we go..

The first post in this is my Braised Pork Belly with Mustard Wine Sauce.

  • 2 pounds fatty pork belly
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 5 large sprigs of rosemary (or at whole bunch bought from the grocery store)
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 large tablespoons of whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
  • 2 heads of fennel with tops
  • 12 shallots
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bottle of white wine that you don't mind using for cooking
  • Stone ground Dijon mustard
  • 1 stick of butter
Preparing the herb rub:
1. Crush the peppercorns to they are roughly ground. I don't use a grinder for this. In fact I use a large rock. This rock, was something I found at the river and looks like a rock that might have once been used for actually grinding up nuts and other goodies. Or it could have been used for an anchor…Or it was just an oddly formed rock. But a mallet works just as well. Basically, you want the pepper to be very coarse and chunky for this, essentially just cracked.
2. Remove the rosemary from the main sprig and chop up until relatively fine. Place into a bowl with the pepper.
3. Mince the entire head of garlic combine and combine with other ingredients.
4. Add salt and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil until you make a paste. Don't make it too runny. Mix well and set aside for a little while.

Preparing the Pork Belly:
The belly should come from your butcher in a giant slab, kind of like a giant uncooked piece of bacon. And, well, that is what pork belly is, uncured bacon, uncooked bacon. The first thing to do is to cut the slab into 2.5 inch long chunks. You should end up with 4, 1/2 lb. strips of belly. Take a sharp knife and score the fatty side of the belly about a 1/4-1/2 inch into in a checker board pattern. This will allow the rub to get into the fat.

Take the rub and mix it up again and smear it onto all sides of the the pork belly slabs. Let the belly rest for a bit in the rub. Just because, well, you know…This of it like going to the spa and getting a fancy salt scrub or something. It just feels good. 

In a large dutch oven, heat up some olive oil to coat the pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot place the pork belly fat side down on the in in the pan and brown. Do this for all sides of the pork. The rub is going to fall off at this point, but that's cool. It will brown up and add flavor. You can add a couple of slabs of belly in at at a time but don't let the dutch oven cool down too much.

Once all the sides are browned up, add the shallots which have been cut in half, and the green tops of the fennel to the pot. Cover the the meet and vegetables with white wine, about 3/4 of the bottle. Cover the pot and place into an oven at 225F. Cook fat side up in the oven.Then go do something for the next four hours.

So what do you do during this time? Lots of thing…You can study for board exams, maybe drink the rest of that bottle of wine, call a loved one, go for  a walk, who knows. Basically, you want to let that belly cook slow and low until it is fork tender. If needed add some extra liquid to the pot.

Once it is tender and cooked through, take out of the oven. The fennel greens get tossed. Take the bellies and shallots out and place onto a cooking sheet. Place the dutch oven onto a large burner on medium-high heat.

Return the pork, fat side up, to the oven under the broiler and watch carefully. At this point we want the  fat to brown and crisp up but not burn. It should get nice and bubbly, and turn a golden brown. Leave the door open to the oven and broiler to make sure you don't burn your meat at this point--broilers are tricky machines to navigate. 

Once the braising liquid starts to boil, add 3 large heaping tablespoons of coarse ground Dijon mustard to the liquid and begin stirring to mix throughout. Then add one stick of butter to the liquid and continue to stir, reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer. It will slowly begin to thicken. Add salt to taste.

Basically you're done at this point. I typically make a sandwich out of the pork using a nice crusty bread. I slice up fennel and use a lot of cilantro as my greens for the mix. I then pour the mustard wine sauce over the meat and greens. 

So yeah, it took five hours to make a sandwich but damn, it was a mighty fine sandwich…a mighty, mighty fine sandwich.

Let me know if you try this or any future recipes.