Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Braised pork belly with wine, soy, and plum jam

I am still reeling from dinner--a delicious, savory piece of pork side (or belly) that I braised in a combination of wine, soy sauce, and plum jam for about five hours. So what what was so good about it: The meat was falling-apart tender, dark with soy sauce and wine, crusted with sweetness that perfectly balanced salt and umami. Oh and then there was the tender, juicy fat that spread around the mouth like the smoothest silk, carrying all those flavors with it. Oh so good. Made me feel like a raving carnivore. Yum.

I've never made anything with side pork before, but a few weeks ago when I was picking up my CSA share from Haskins Family Farm, Robert Haskins suggested that I try some. Not wanting to appear less than adventurous and/or knowledgeable, I said sure.

But I've been a little worried about it. I don't want to waste food because I don't know how to cook it right and make something that no one likes and we kind of pick at until it goes away. But that didn't happen. This recipe and method have stolen my heart. Moreover, the house has smelled amazing all day, and it was super easy. I can't wait to try this again on a cold winter day to heat up the place and make everything all nice and cozy. I am also trying to come up with something to do with the (very few) leftovers. (Maybe shred it and serve it with some pasta? On a sandwich, with some of the extra fat heated and drizzled over the bread? Hm. Choices, choices. Of course, the way I keep picking at the leftovers, I may not have leftovers by morning.)  

Side pork is more or less equivalent to pork belly, which is the cut of the pig that bacon is made from. (And bacon is one of foods of the gods, I am sure.) It contains a lot of fat in layers, so I wanted to try to render out as much of that possible and more or less use it to self-baste the meat. I also wanted to collect the rendered fat to use for something else later. Here's how to do it.

  • 2 cups red wine (I used a nice Virginia Merlot)
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 lbs side pork
  • 3 tablespoons plum jam 
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • 5 peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your pork side in a oven-proof glass dish. Season the meat very liberally with salt, ground pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix wine, soy sauce, plum jam, garlic, onions, and peppercorns and pour the mix into the glass dish. Tightly cover the dish with tin foil and put it in the oven for about five hours. Baste once per hour. When you take it out, let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Cut it into slices to serve. 

You can serve it with roasted root vegetables like I did. I cut beets, carrots, celery root, potatoes, and some Cipollini onions into bite-size pieces; tossed them in olive oil; sprinkled dried rosemary over them; and placed them in a 435-degree oven for about 50 minutes. Salt the vegetables when they are done to avoid drawing the moisture out during roasting. 


1 comment:

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