It’s been a bit of a crappy week. My meat fridge in the garage died. I know that sounds like a First World Problem, but it really pissed me off. The reason it really pissed me off was I had to throw away 15lbs of pork belly I was curing for bacon. My pork belly was not a total loss, though, as I was able to braise a one-pound piece of it for dinner. Considering this one-pound of pork belly cost me $75 it was absolutely freaking delicious. All right, enough crying over rotten pork, lets get on with this week's recipe...Beer Braised Pork Belly.
|Beer Braised Pork Belly with Wilted Bok Choy Slaw|
Pork belly seems to be the popular girl at the dance these days. I’m seeing it gracing more menus and the cooking shows sing it's praises in a chorus culinary odes. Even one of our favorite food vendors at the Rail Yards Market lists it as an omelette option, a mighty tasty one at that. Since it’s on more menus, it's only reasonable that more of it is making its way into my fat belly. Partaking of this richly decadent meat treat on a regular basis has given me a better idea of how it’s supposed to be prepared; it's all research in the name of culinary science. But hey, someone has to do it. You're welcome. Although, my first attempt at cooking pork belly was mighty fine, there is still a lot to learn in order to get the most out this fatty morsel and the R & D Team at AlbuKirky Seasonings is willing to bite the bullet, in a matter of speaking.
To begin my culinary adventure, I traveled up the belly and opted to use Pork Side instead. Pork Side is cut a little higher up on the belly and has a higher meat to fat ratio. I decided to go skinless, but I might leave the skin on for my next attempt. I started by marinating my pork belly in an Asian dressing prepared by Cheryl earlier in the week. She got the recipe from one of her favorite food bloggers, Pioneer Woman. I marinated the belly in a ziplock bag with the dressing and placed it in the fridge over night, but I made sure to set aside some of the dressing to serve over the pork belly after braising.
3/4 cups Canola Oil
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon (additional) Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 cloves Garlic, Peeled
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Lots Of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Just add all the ingredients in a shaker bottle or Mason jar and shake vigorously.
|Browning Pork Belly on Cast Iron Plate Setter|
Pork belly doesn’t necessarily require smoke to be delicious, so I opted to only slightly infuse a subtle smoke flavor. Besides, if I over smoked it, the result would just be bland bacon and even though doesn't sound terrible, it wasn't the result I was looking for. Using the Big Green Egg with my favorite mesquite charcoal, I scored the fatty side of the belly and then browned each side of it on my sweet new cast iron plate setter. The cast iron plate setter is a "grate" tool, a review will be coming soon.
|Pork Belly Braise in Beer|
After both sides were browned, I placed the belly in a Dutch oven. Sticking with my Asian flavor profile I poured in a large bottle of Sapporo Beer. I placed the oven back on the BGE and cooked it for an hour and a half. I thought if I left the lid off the top would crisp up a bit but it didn’t and the pork didn’t quite have the unctuous texture I was looking for. Next time I will cook it with the lid on and maybe I will get that soft fall apart texture.
Once the pork belly was done, I sliced it up and served it with a drizzle of the Asian dressing, and some pickled daikon radish and carrots. Cheryl made a fantastic Wilted Bok Choy Slaw that's lightness perfectly offset the richness of the meat. The acid from the pickled daikon and dressing cut through the fattiness to create a surprisingly crisp bite. Delicious. Seriously, this stuff is not just good, it's delectable.
Hopefully, I will have a new meat fridge next week and one of my First World Problems will be solved. But seriously, its a pain in the ass to not have a meat fridge and my barbecuing is suffering. This morning Cheryl had to proof her sourdough in an ice chest, and you all know what that means.....I believe we have officially reached a crisis level.