Monday, December 27, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Pork Belly and Brussles Sprouts

Last year around Christmas we went to Serious Pie for our friend Calvin's birthday. You can check out that blog post here. Since that time, I have been on an elusive quest to recreate the amazing pork belly and Brussels sprouts appetizer we enjoyed. The problem with pork belly is that you have to cook it just right, otherwise it can turn rubbery or the fat might not render enough and it can remain fatty and soft. The best pork belly has crispy skin and soft, tender meat. There is little to no chewy fat as the meat has been essentially braised in its own fat as it cooks.

I tried about a dozen recipes over the year, and have finally pieced together a couple of recipes to recreate that amazing dish. The pork belly recipe is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe I found on the Internet. The Brussels sprouts have been adapted over the last year after many trial and errors.

I shared the last version with my favorite food Ginni pigs the other week when the guys came over to once again celebrate Calvin's birthday. Here is my belated Christmas and New Year's present to you all: one of my all time favorite dishes, finally perfected! Let me know if you make it and how it turns out--I am always excited to improve on perfection!

Pork Belly:
  • 1.5-2 lbs Pork Belly (you can find this cut of meat in the meat freezer section of Central Market in Seattle or ask your local butcher)
  • Plenty of kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 carrots, peeled and halved length wise
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in half
  • 2 red or sweet onions, halved
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves with the skin on
  • 2 cups of chicken stock or water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Score the skin side of the pork belly with a sharp knife with cuts about a centimeter apart, cutting through the skin but not to the meat portion of the belly. Rub salt and pepper into skin, getting it in between the scores in the skin and all over the rest of the meat. Put in oven for 30 minutes until the skin starts to puff and "crackle." Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast for another hour. Take the pan out of the oven and baste the meat with the fat and juices that have rendered out of the meat. Set the meat on a cutting board and add the vegetables to the pan, making sure they are tossed and coated in the fat drippings. Place the pork on top of the veggies and put back in the oven for an hour.

Take the pork out of the oven and place the meat to the side, covering with aluminum foil. Place the pan with the veggies and juices on the stove top at about medium heat and add the chicken stock or water. Bring it to a boil and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, creating a nice dark brown gravy. Let it simmer and reduce for a couple of minutes. Pour the gravy through a sieve into the serving dish, pushing the delicious flavors of the veggies through. Chop up the pork belly and add to the gravy.

Brussels Sprouts:
  • 1 bag brussels sprouts
  • 1 Shallot, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
Core and quarter Brussels sprouts (this can take some time, so I always like having my handy dandy Suez chef, Kyle!). Heat a large skillet or pan over med-high heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add the shallots and caramelize until shallots begin to soften and brown a bit. Add the minced garlic and once it starts to brown (almost immediately) add the Brussels sprouts and saute, adding salt and pepper to taste. When the Brussels sprouts have browned a bit (about a minute) add the chicken stock and let simmer until sprouts have absorbed most of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the gravy and pork belly and serve immediately.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy Eating,

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