Yeah, sure, I like to play "duck, duck, goose."...except my version is called "fat, fat, meat."

Pork belly isn't the leanest of the meat treats.  Actually, it's pretty fat-tastic.  ok, so it's mostly fat.  The chinese call it "five flower pork."  I think of it as "big beautiful bacon."  Anyway, this is a cut of meat that can either be really, REALLY, good or instantly forgettable.  I chose to use a chinese technique called "red cooking", which is braising the meat in a combination of soy sauce, vinegar(s), sugar, and aromatics.  It takes a little more time than you might be used to spending (2-3 hours, depending on size of meat), but there is something very satisfying about making something out of next to nothing (just ask oprah, she looks VERY satisfied).  paired it with some roasted, rainbow carrots, tasty for days.  Wifeshow thought it smelled like I was baking brownies ( the dessert, not the flatulence).   it kind of did...weird.  Anyway, the long braise makes the fat melt into the meat and you get this (blah blah blah...I'm sorry, I'm really tired and honestly, this is like the fourth time I've tried to write this.  It was a good dish and all, actually it was very good, great even, and I highly recommend that you try the recipe I will post, but the truth is, I'm just done talking about it.  I've got pork belly writer's block.)
The other two dishes were an asian noodle soup with chicken and snap peas and pork carnitas with rice and beans.  I really enjoyed the soup.  The broth was made by steeping some ginger root, lemons, and scallions in chicken broth and water and then straining that and simmering the chicken, peas, and noodles in it.  Oh, and I discovered that you can buy plain ramen-style noodles (sans seasoning packet), so  I threw some of those in there too.  You know, in case you want to be reminded of college.  the carnitas was a quick version where the pork was braised with stock and oj.  rice and beans came along for the ride.  My trick to good beans (beside using dried, which are always better) is stirring in a little pork fat.  you have a jar of pork fat that you've painstakingly saved from bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, etc., in your fridge right? Of course you do!  If it makes you feel better, you can call it bacon extract:)  pieces.

Braised Pork belly
couple lbs pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes and tied with kitchen twine and salted
1 c soy sauce
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 inch knob of ginger root, peeled and diced
3 cinnamon sticks
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 cups apple juice
run the pork under cold water, removing the salt and any blood (THERE WILL BE BLOOD!...maybe, don't worry if there's not, consider yourself lucky.). in a dutch oven, boil the pork belly (in water) for 3 minutes. remove from water and run the pork under cold water, set aside (dump out dutch oven and dry off for later use). combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to incorporate honey.  put pork and the rest of the ingredients back into dutch oven and bring to a boil.  turn heat to VERY low and simmer, turning pork every thirty or so minutes for 2.5 to 3 hours.  cut twine, strain sauce and serve.  booyah, you just made something way deliciouser than a steak (in my book).  Anyone can cook an expensive piece of meat, it takes a champ to cook some peace of mind (don't steal that, it's going in my book.)


Chris said...

I'll have the carnitas please!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think I can leave comments! Snap! Where have I been???

I'm going to start saving up bacon extract as soon as possible.