I realize that a couple of the ingredients in the title might scare a few people off in not only reading this blog but making it is completely out of the question. I can only say that if you have never tried pork belly you need to put it on your short list. I have some in my freezer pretty much all the time now. It does take a bit of planning and cook time for the belly to use it but you won’t be disappointed.
Speaking of disappointment; I found a recipe that I thought looked and sounded interesting enough that I bought a couple of the ingredients I didn’t have so to make it the following week. I will take part of the blame and I will heed you into reading not only the list of ingredients but run through the instructions of the recipe. This one recipe that I had planned for a Sunday dinner we ended up eating it on a Tuesday night after work. Long story short, there was an overnight soaking, a 1 to 1¼ hour of cooking, a 3-4 hour of cooking and a rest of an hour on the counter and another 2 hours in the oven. This was probably one of the most stressful recipes I actually was determined to make. My family was very patient with me, well honestly they were excited to eat it but couldn’t understand why it took 3 days to get it on the table.
Because I like all of you who continued reading even after the title, I will NOT share the 3 day recipe that stressed me out and was very good but will not be repeated in my kitchen; not by me anyway. I will share with you and give you the heads up that this one can be a Sunday meal that you can start earlier in the day OR make the pork belly a day or two ahead of time and then finish it when you want. You will need braise the pork for 2-3 hours and while that is cooking you can make the glaze. Once those two are done, the rest is easy peasy.
For the Belly
2 lb boneless, skinless pork belly
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
½ medium head of fennel, coarsely chopped
1 12-oz. Bottle of hard cider
2 cups chicken broth
For the Glaze
2 cup apple cider
1 12-oz bottle of hard cider
For the Brussels sprouts
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick (about 4 cups)
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1 head frisee, cut into bite-size pieces
1 red apple, unpeeled, cut into ½ inch dice
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped Marcona almonds
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola
Braising the Pork Belly
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350’F. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a ¾ inch crosshatch pattern through the fat but not through the meat. Season with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 7 to 8 quart pot, over medium heat. Put the pork belly, fat side down, in the pot. If you need to cut it to fit that is fine. Cook until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes flip the belly, add the carrots, celery, onion, fennel, hard cider, and broth. Cover, transfer to the oven and braise until the pork is fork tender, 2-3 hours. Remove and cool. Cut into 12 pieces, about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. Discard the braising mixture. Again you can store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Make sure to bring to room temperature before continuing on.
Making of the Glaze
Put the apple cider and hard cider in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy, about an hour or so.
Make the Brussels sprouts and serve
Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork belly and cook, fat side down, until the meat is warm and the fat softens, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the Brussels sprouts and cook undisturbed until browned on one side, about 3-5 minutes. Add ¼ cup water, stir and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the shallot and cook stirring until fragrant, about another minute or so. Add the vinegar and toss. Add the frisee, apple, nuts, and the remaining 3 Tbsp oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush the pork belly with the glaze, then drizzle the remaining glaze evenly over the Brussels sprout mixture. Top the Brussels sprout mixture with the pork belly pieces. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola and serve.