This week we have Pork Belly on the table. Tad from Feather Brook Farm (he's basically a superhero in overalls) was positively giddy to send it to us. Pork Belly is a boneless cut of meat from the underside of the pig. It's also the genesis of bacon - the second greatest thing under the sun... next to pork belly. This meat is incredibly tasty and is the darling of many cuisines from Columbia to Korea.
To figure out what to do with this gem, we asked our friend and long-time Family Dinner member Christine Liu for a few recipes. Christine is the Executive Editor for Web at America's Test Kitchen and knows a thing or two about whipping up delicious dishes. She also is wickedly funny, a competitive Olympic Weight Lifter, and has an enviable sock collection. Oh, and she plays the violin. Our members are so cool.
"I don't really have much to say about pork belly except it's delicious and fat is FLAVOR. And why pay like $9 for 2 pork belly sliders in some resto when you can do it yourself?"
We agree. Recipes ideas from her and the great folks at ATK below.
WHAT'S IN THE BAG?
HALF SHAREProtein - Pork Belly and Eggs from Feather Brook Farm
Fruits and Veggies - Napa Cabbage and Watermelon Radishes from Brookford Farm; Shiitake Mushrooms from Mycoterra Farm, McIntosh Apples from Apex Farm
Grains - Baguette from Iggy's Bakery
Special Treat - Peanut Butter Brownies from Vinal Bakery (sweet peanut buttery awesomeness)
Pescatarian - Haddock from Red's Best
Protein and Dairy - Pork Belly and Eggs from Feather Brook Farm; Yogurt from Brookford Farm; Haddock from Red's Best
Fruits and Veggies - Yellow Onions, Napa Cabbage and Watermelon Radishes from Brookford Farm; Shiitake Mushrooms from Mycoterra Farm, McIntosh Apples from Apex Farm; Arugula from Cornerstalk Farm (grown in recycled shipping containers in East Boston!)
Grain - Baguette from Iggy's Bakery
Special Treats - Peanut Butter Brownies from Vinal Bakery (Good God these are amazing!)
Pescatarian - Haddock and North Atlantic Salmon from Red's Best
Haddock Gratin with Mushrooms: Normally we love to talk about a simple butter, herb baste for flaky white fish, but this cozy pairing with the mushrooms was calling our name.
Grilled Napa Cabbage with Mustard: When exposed to high heat almost all brassicas (cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli etc) will develop a nice sweet, nutty flavor and soften a bit while developing a nice crusty, almost charred edge. The leaves can be separated, or the cabbage can be cut into quarters (wedge salad anyone?). In this recipe Martha calls for Chinese Mustard and agave, we just used Dijon and a touch of honey. Your cast-iron can step in for the actual grill if you don't feel like stepping outside until April.
Roasted Watermelon Radishes: Judge not the watermelon radish by its dull exterior. The bright interior will lend some much needed color to your winter dishes. They also pickle beautifully if you felt like making a Pork Belly Bahn Mi.
More on dat belly from America's Test Kitchen via the Wonderful Ms. Liu:
"Here's a fun one: DIY bacon: (the video shows a 4-lb slab but it should be straightforward to adapt to a smaller piece - and it's an excuse to fire up the grill during winter!)
Crispy Slow Roasted Pork Belly: for the best of both worlds - unctuous, meltingly dreamy belly meat topped with a crisp pork-rind crunch (the video shows a 3-lb slab but if you just have 1-lb, you can just follow the directions for one of those strips)."
From the folks at ATK:
"Why this recipe works: For tender, flavorful pork belly with a crisp crown of skin, we started by scoring the skin and rubbing it with salt. To help tenderize and season the meat, we rubbed it with a mixture of salt and brown sugar. We then air-dried the belly overnight in the refrigerator to start to dry the skin. Roasting the pork belly low and slow (instead of using the traditional high roasting temperatures) helped further dry the skin and turn tough collagen to gelatin while keeping the meat juicy. Finally, we fry the skin, which causes it to dramatically puff up and crisp. A few quick, bracing sauces balanced the richness of the belly for an impressive holiday or party centerpiece.
1 (3-pound) skin-on center-cut fresh pork belly, about 1 1/2 inches thick
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
This recipe requires seasoning and refrigerating the pork belly for at least 12 hours before cooking. Be sure to ask for a flat, rectangular center-cut section of skin-on pork belly that’s 1 1/2 inches thick with roughly equal amounts of meat and fat. Serve the meat in small portions with our Spicy Mustard Sauce, Sweet and Sour Chile Sauce, or Tangy Hoisin Sauce, plus white rice and steamed greens or boiled potatoes and salad.
1. Using sharp chef’s knife, slice pork belly lengthwise into 3 strips about 2 inches wide, then make 1/4-inch-deep crosswise cuts through skin and into fat spaced 1/2 inch apart. Combine 2 tablespoons salt and brown sugar in small bowl. Rub salt mixture into bottom and sides of pork belly (do not rub into skin). Season skin of each strip evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place pork belly, skin side up, in 13 by 9-inch baking dish and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Transfer pork belly, skin side up, to lightly greased wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Roast pork belly until meat registers 195 degrees and paring knife inserted in meat meets little resistance, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, rotating sheet halfway through roasting.
3. Transfer pork belly, skin side up, to large plate. (Pork belly can be held at room temperature for up to 1 hour.) Pour fat from sheet into 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Add vegetable oil as needed to equal 1 cup and transfer to 12-inch skillet. Arrange pork belly, skin side down, in skillet (strips can be sliced in half crosswise if skillet won’t fit strips whole) and place over medium heat until bubbles form around pork belly. Continue to fry, tilting skillet occasionally to even out hot spots, until skin puffs, crisps, and turns golden, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork belly, skin side up, to carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Flip pork belly on its side and slice 1/2 inch thick (being sure to slice through original score marks). Re-invert slices and serve.
SPICY MUSTARD SAUCE:
⅔ cup Dijon mustard
⅓ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Whisk all ingredients together in bowl."
TIPS AND TRICKS
In this week's edition of " Don't throw that away, I'll eat it!": Leftover bread.
Day 1: Fresh bread is heaven. These baguettes were baked at Iggy's this morning and was warm on pick up. Slater it with butter, jam, cheese or a little chunk of pate and you've got at meal. And no, it isn't too early for a glass of wine. Go for it, we support you. If you have bread any remaining, store in at room temp in a sealed plastic bag.
Day 2: The bread will still be soft enough for sandwiches and will be perfect for French Toast for Sunday Brunch.
Day 3: Fresh bread gets hard quickly. No preservatives means the shelf life is short. We're ok with that because the flavor is incomparable. But what do you do with your left over pieces? Don't throw them away, there are 100 uses for old bread. From the obvious breadcrumbs and croutons to the mildly more complicated (but totally worth it!) Strata and Italian Bread Soup you can give that bread a new life. Cooking Light has a few tips.