Zero Nostalgia

Besides bacon, I do enjoy pork belly in other forms. Now I know it’s right up there with Jay Mohr doing an impression of Christopher Walken dressed as Fonzie jumping over Damien Hirst’s pickled shark on a Segway in terms of its of-the-momentness, but leaving aside the moronic frivolity of Food Trends™ for a second, it’s a cut of meat with a very particular character and a sterling pedigree in a whole bunch of culinary traditions– some of which date back well into the twentieth century!

Imagine that.

In China, it’s sometimes referred to as the “five layers of heaven” for its alternating striations of muscle and fat. And then skin. I made a pretty badass dinner with a hunk a while back– a hunk I cured as if for bacon (but with all sorts of Indian inflection) and then braised for six hours in the oven with stock and such, and it was ridonkulosity incarnate on a bed of dal with some of the braising liquid.

This time aound, I didn’t have any cured, but I did have a particularly meaty hunk of Berkshire belly in the freezer. So I thawed it in chicken stock with a pile of aromatics and set it in a 190˚ oven for about 6 hours. Meanwhile, I pressure-cooked navy beans with parsnips, leeks, minced duck prosciutto, and herbs, and caramelized brussels sprouts with lardons of our bacon and then steamed with a bit more of the chicken stock. And whisked up some polenta. Once out of the oven, I strained the braising liquid and reduced it a tetch while I put a righteous sear on the skin of the belly and then cut it into portions.

It probably would have tasted better if I had been wearing a too-small Thom Browne suit and listening to Arctic Monkeys on a Zune while I ate it, but as it was it did just fine for, you know, people eating dinner.

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10 Comments

  1. cognitiveleeks
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    This post made me laugh. And want pork belly.

  2. Julia
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    Niiice. You get a lot of mileage out of your pressure cooker. It's inspired to use mine more, and more creatively.

  3. Zoomie
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    The belly looks good but, man, I'm all about the sprouts!

  4. leo
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    This post made me smile. And the belly looks good with the sprouts!
    baby crib

  5. michael
    1/20/2010
    Reply

    This belly looks so so yummy! Thank you for sharing this easy to do recipe with us. I have had a couple of pork belly at home and can't think of anything to do with it besides making bacon. Thank you, now I have a new recipe! I can't wait to have this for dinner and end it with a hot cup of coffee from my new delonghi coffee maker Great post. Kudos!

  6. Ant Kendall
    1/20/2010
    Reply

    Love the sardonic humour regarding zeitgeist and the curse of food fashion. Feeling you there. To throw some ideas into the cyperpot I've had great success with 'red cooked' pork belly….basically a chinese braise using anise, cinn, tangerine peel, ricewine, vinegar, sugar, spring onion, ginger garlic, celery, carrot, soy. Remove when wobbly-tender. Press overnight. Strain and reduce liquor to a demi glace. Once cold, hard-sear the skinside till crisp, turn, bathe in demi and reduce till sticky. mmmm garnish shredded s.onion, ginger, corainder.

  7. peter
    1/20/2010
    Reply

    Leeks: Hi there. I am happy to help on both fronts.

    Julia: I love this thing. Used it again just now. No soaking!

    Zoomie: Yes, sprouts are genius, but with belly it's like the Turtles.

    Leo and Michael: Snaps for couching your spam in customized comments. For extra credit, de-anonymize yourselves and provide a url or email.

    Ant: That sounds wicked.Honestly, I bet it's incredible. Easy to get belly, etc. in Catalonia?

  8. We Are Never Full
    1/24/2010
    Reply

    you're fucking hilarious. fucking. hilarious.

    so true about pork belly… but it's FUCKING good.

  9. Miss jane
    5/18/2010
    Reply
  10. […] touched on the absurdity of food trends as exemplified by pork belly here, and I don’t have much more to add on that subject right now. I’ve been making bacon […]

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