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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Pork Belly In Two Ways With Crackling Crisps & Soy

Pork Belly In Two Ways With Crackling Crisps & Soy

This is not as tough as it looks.
You basically make a nest for the pork to lay in, with veg chopped up and layed on a tray. The water that goes in (stock) keeps the fleshy part moist and lets things caramelise at the end, while the skin stays dry and crisps up until its separated etc.

you ll need;
-pork belly, one big joint whole or two (one cut in half).
-soy bean paste (korean is best, labelled Miso, its pure soy bean paste, or use a non-salty soy sauce if you cant find it)
-bay leaf x 2
-garlic crushed x 4 cloves
- banana shallots x 4 or 3 onions quartered / in 3-4cm thick cubes
 -2 carrots sliced in 2-3cm thick cubes
-stock (veg)
-cognac or white sweet wine
-Sea Salt (oodles)
-mustard, dijon
-rosemary, 1 bunch, fresh preferred.

Prepare the pork belly;
-score the skin well, in diamond shapes, making sure the skin is cut through but fat & flesh intact.
Prepare the brine;

Brine the pork belly ;
- bring a pan with water, 6-7 peppercorns 2 bay leafs and 1/3 cup sea salt, almost to the boil, and immediately take off the heat and rest - let cool.
This is the brine, emerse the pork in there and cover tight & refrigerate for a least 1 day.


When ready to cook, prepare the veg ; cut onions and carrots in 2-3cm blocks squareish, they ll function as a bed for your pork, so arrange them onto a tray, a baking tray that just about fits the pork bellies in.

clean the belly off the brine and pad dry.
Now sit it on the chopped veg already in the tray. Mix with the mustard and rosemary.

Heat up some duck fat or olive oil to Very very hot, smoking hot.
Carefully shock the skin of the pork with the hot oil, rubbing / pouring the excess off afterwards.

rub more salt into the skin and pad dry again. Real dry.

now carefully (DO NOT pour any of that water on the skin, it ll sog it) pour stock, enough to cover the veg and just about touch the lower sides of the meat 1-2 cm. It shouldnt touch the skin, i repeat.

 Put in a 180 celsius oven, if possible with fan on.

Leave it alone for a good 2 hrs, occasionally checking the pan hasnt dried out, always keep refilling the stock so that the veg s covered. Check often, its good to air the oven quickly so waters evaporate. No worries about the meat drying cause the stock underneath rehydrates it.

2 hrs later, check for any signs of crackling. The cut and age of the pork will make for differences in cooking times and crisping times.
Now you should let the water evaporate a little more, making sure theres no scortching but just about that , just a thin layer at the bottom. This allows the veg and the bottom of the pork to caramelise a little, and brown nicely with the sugars from the veg.

At around 2 and 1/2 hrs to 3, crackling should be forming hard & crisp.

Now take it out, and let rest.


Once the pork has cooled down, carefully remove the crackling. You want to separate the skin but leave the thin layer of fat attached solidly to the flesh!
Use a sharp flat thin knife, pulling the skin as you cut.

Let rest.

Now you have your sort of pave' of pork, and your crackling chips. Cut the chips in strips with a pair of scizzors,  in thin 1/2cm slices or so, leaving their width as it is.

Stick the crackling back in the oven until super crisp. 10-15 mins. Drain on paper towels for excess fat.

The flesh of the pork should be melted and supersoft. The cracklings crisp and dry.

FInishing;   salt the fat side of the pork pave' and heat a tiny bi of oil / duc fat in a non stick shallow pan ; on high heat, fry both sides of the pork, ending with the fat side down, Just for a few moments, you ll see the edges browning.
This will make a more gentle second crackling crisping the fat layer that was under the skin before you took it off.

Now take off the heat and let rest - take some of the stock and vegetables you ve reserved from the baking tray, and pour in the hot pan, deglaze with some sweet white wine or cognac, and stir to make a sauce. Add 1tsp of soy bean paste, and reduce gently not letting the soy cook.

Serve the sauce on the plate, put the pork pave' on top, then the crisps of the skin on the side.

You ll want a lot of crisp acidic salad with this, definitely french beans and a big appetite.

ps - the stock from this is a lot, you may want to keep some to toss noodles in or make a risotto. Its fatty but you can skim it to your liking by letting it cool and spooning off the fat top layer.

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