Beautiful Pork Belly - but what to do??
There's a certain recipe for traditional Chinese braised pork belly (Tungpo pork) that's been floating around the internet since 1992. The essay that goes along with the recipe is very charming, with passages like:
"Tungpo Pork is customarily served at the end of a meal with bowls of rice. People sigh shout and groan with happiness when they see it."
The recipe itself is really, really simple. It takes awhile due to lengthy braising of the meat, but requires very little work and only a few ingredients. It's a perfect dish for a day when you know you'll be at home all day doing chores - you get it started, fuss with it at a few intervals during the day, and then have this amazing, show-stopping reward waiting for you at the end of the day.
I made this recipe the other day and it was truly stunning. I served the meat sliced with steamed buns (the kind that come with Peking Duck - I was pleased to find that you can buy packages of these in Chinese markets and they steam up to perfect soft sweetness in about four minutes), sliced scallion and hoisin sauce.
Here's a link to one copy of the recipe, though you'll find at least a dozen postings of the same recipe if you google "tungpo pork"
I can't wait to try this. However, what I just bought is a piece of pork fat from the back of a sustainably raised pig. I am going to attempt to make Lardo (Italy) from a recipe that I found on line. Sounds a little like the brine used in this porky chain, but you keep it in the brine for 3 months, then slice thin and put on hot rissoto or bruschetta. No cooking involved!
Just a quick note to let you good folks know that I roasted the Pork Belly according to Carb Lover's 'Fergeuson Method". I CANNOT BELIEVE how well it turned out! The bed I made for the pork was cabbage, potatos, fennel and carrots was sweet and tasted deeply of the fall. The pork itself yielded to a fork and was cloud-tender. Most spectaular, though, was the skin-chewy and crispy at the same time. My boyfriend nearly fainted with delight. Thanks folks!
Made this last month and was a hit with my swine loving buddies
Braised Fresh Bacon
prep & cooking time approx: 4+hrs
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds pork belly, skin on
1 onion, peeled & coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled & coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part only, trimmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
About 3 cups, chicken stock
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until the oil slides easily across the pan. Salt and pepper the pork and add it, fat-side down, to the skillet. Cook until the skin is browned, about 15 minutes, then transfer the pork to a plate.
2, Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat and add the onions, carrots, celery, leek, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Return the pork belly to the skillet, fat-side up, and add about 2 cups of stock (it should surround but not coverthe meat.) Bring the stock to a simmer, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Gently simmer the pork, uncovered, for 1 hour, then add another cup of stock. Continue cooking until the pork is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 1 hour longer.
3. Allow the pork to cool in the braising liquid. Remove the pork from the liquid, then gently lift off and discard the skin or save for cracklings (use a small knife to seperate any pieces that don't come away from the fat easily.) Score the fat, making crosshatch incisions, then cut pork into 4 equal pieces.
4. lncrease the oven to 400F. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids. Return the liquid to the skillet, bring to a simmer, and skim off the fat. Return pork, fat-side up, to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, without basting, until pork is heated through and the fat nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve the pork in a shallow bowl moistened with a bit of the braising liquid.
Another option instead of dry roasting as described in MMRuth's linked post is to braise using one of Molly Stevens' recipes from All About Braising (the current cookbook of the month). Couldn't find any recipe online, but the photo in the book makes my mouth water! Please report back on how it goes...