Braised Pork Belly

by Talley

in Main Course,Pork

Cider Braised Pork Belly Do you have a weakness for a particular food? Something that you simply cannot resist ordering when you see it on the menu? A dish, a dessert, an ingredient, a cut of meat? For us, that weakness is for pork belly. We simply cannot resist it. It is perhaps the perfect cut of meat: layers of delicious melting fat sandwiched between tender slabs of meat, usually without any gristle, and always bursting with flavor and texture. And so versatile! It is just as comfortable sitting decadently on a bed of sauteed apples with a sugary glaze as it is neatly squared off and paired with a fresh arugula purée. It can take hours of braising in a rich stock, or it can be thinly sliced and marinated in a sweet soy mixture for grilling. When I think about some of the best dishes I’ve had out at restaurants, many of them are pork belly. I simply haven’t met a pork belly I didn’t like.

Is there a food or ingredient that you have to order if you see it being served? Let me know in the comments!

This year, we bought a half of a pig from our neighbors Gwen and Fred who raise a couple of pigs a year on their farm out near Goldendale, Washington (more on that in another post). With it came a beautiful hunk of belly. . . something that I’d never cooked at home before. We also were lucky enough to procure a couple gallons of delicious apple cider from our neighbor’s farm as well, and so we were hoping to find a good cider-braised recipe idea to try out on our belly (pun actually not intended). I found the perfect looking recipe in a cookbook called Sizzle in Hell’s Kitchen contributed by Joe Marcus of the West Bank Cafe in New York. The belly is braised in cider, wine, chicken and veal stocks, and vinegar for a few hours, and then served up with a cranberry chutney on a bed of celeriac purée. I think it is one of the best things to have ever come out of our home kitchen.

Cider Braised Pork Belly

I’ve modified the original recipe slightly to lengthen the braising time and finish the belly off briefly in the broiler to crisp up the exterior. If you don’t have veal stock, I strongly urge you to give it a try, but you could probably substitute a light beef stock, or just increase the amount of chicken stock (all preferably homemade to control the level of salt). Everything except the salad here can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.

Cider-Braised Pork Belly with Cranberry Chutney and Apple Frisée Salad

Pork:

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1½ lbs pork belly
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ c red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup veal stock
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

Chutney:

  • ½ lb frozen cranberries
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Celeriac Puree

  • 1 small head celery root, washed, trimmed, and chopped
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • salt to taste

Apple Frisée Salad:

  • ½ head frisée, yellow part only
  • 4 slices Granny Smith Apple, julienned
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Pork: Preheat oven to 300˚F. Heat oil on high in a large Dutch oven. Add pork belly and sear until browned on both sides, don’t skimp on the browning step! Take out pork and put it on a plate. Add celery, onion, carrot, garlic, bay, and peppercorns and sweat on medium low until soft, about 6 minutes. Return the pork to the pot, add the red wine and simmer about 6 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients (not the chutney or the puree), bring to a boil, then cover the dutch oven and place it in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Turn the pork every 45 minutes or so. The liquid should be just barely simmering, so if it’s boiling when you take it out, turn the heat down slightly. When the pork is very tender, remove pork from the liquid and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Return the sauce to heat on the stovetop and reduce by two-thirds to a nice sauce consistency, skimming as necessary.

Chutney: Place cranberries, sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and cook, stirring often, until the liquid evaporates. Cover and set aside.

Celeriac Puree: Place celery root, milk, cream, caraway, and salt in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until celery root is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving about ¼ cup of the liquid, and place the celery root in a blender. Process to a smooth puree, adding some of the milky liquid as necessary.

Salad: Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice, adding a pinch of salt if desired. Mix frisée and apples in a bowl and toss with dressing.

Crisp the Pork: Preheat the broiler. Reheat the chutney and the celeriac puree. If the pork is cold, place it in the reduced cooking liquid and reheat on medium until hot, if it’s still warm inside, don’t bother. Portion the pork belly into 2 to 3 pieces. Place pork on a baking sheet and broil briefly about 3 to 4 inches from the heating element to get the exterior slightly crisp. Be very careful here, you don’t want it to burn. It should only take about a minute before you need to turn it to crisp the other side, so keep a close eye on it. Alternatively, you can sear the pork belly briefly in some hot oil on the stovetop, but I prefer the broiling method.

Plate: Swirl the celeriac puree on warmed individual serving plates and place a generous dollop of chutney on top. Place a portion of pork belly on top. Arrange the frisée salad around each dish and finish with a drizzle of the sauce over the pork belly.

Think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Serves 2 to 3 . . . can be doubled or tripled if desired.

Cider Braised Pork Belly

Pork Belly on Foodista

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Zach July 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

My mouth is watering.

To answer your question, I have a hard time resisting liver of any type, in any form.

Reply

Beryl July 1, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Liver? Really??

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Zach July 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Really! From the exalted foie gras to the lowly liver and onions to classic country pate to the rumaki (chicken liver wrapped in bacon) my mom used to bring home from the PA Dutch farmer’s market… I love it all!

Reply

Andy K July 2, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Hard for me to resist anything with biscuits, or gravy, or hopefully both. For some reason the starches always call out to me (stuffing, gnocchi, mashed potatoes, cornbread, etc.) and can sway me more than the main component.

Reply

NudeFood July 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I agree with Zach, foie gras is almost impossible to resist. Have you guys ever pan fried chicken livers? I think that’s next on my list…

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buddhachef36 August 5, 2009 at 4:26 pm

When are you guys going to invest in an immersion circulator? Sous Vide Pork Belly is phenomenal! Hey, just saw the cookbook! Very nice work! Great selection of recipes, beautiful pictures, nicely organized. Kudos! We are down in the Bay visiting Z & A and catching Phish at Shoreline tonight. No Gorge for you??
Josh

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kellyp August 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

my pork processor mistakenly sliced our fresh pork belly. we usually smoke it ourselves so i am attempting to use it in something like a braised pork belly dish. i have taken some of the concepts of this recipe and adapted to my dilemma and my available pantry. if it turns out well i will post it :)

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Mike K November 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Made this today. It was excellent! Didn’t have any caraway so added some chopped chervil to the celery root mash instead. Nice recipe, low food cost, restaurant like results. I’ll definitely make this again!

Reply

Brian Hall March 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

Hey,

Quick question. I have a nice slab of pork belly, I wanted to prepare this tonight, but due to timing we wouldn’t be eating it tonight, can I braise the pork belly for the 3 hours, set it aside to cool, portion it out the next day and warm and then crisp it?

I’m guessing that its ok to do, based on the “Crisp the Pork” section but I just want to double check!

Thanks,

Brian Hall

Reply

Talley March 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hey Brian,
Yeah, that should work just fine. Let the pork cool, refrigerate for a day or two, then warm it up in a low oven (about 200 or 250) for 30 minutes or until warmed through (preferably in the reduced cooking liquid) . Then finish it off with the crisping step. Good luck!

Reply

Brian Hall March 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Great thanks so much for the help!

Reply

steven glasl July 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

quick question about braising pork belly. i just flipped it after 1 hour in the dutch oven and a fair amount of liquid and evaporated(i am fairly new to cooking, 2 years about) is it normal for that much liquid to evaporate?

Reply

Talley July 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

hmm…
how much is “a fair amount”? The amount of evaporation is definitely going to depend on a number of factors including the type of pan you’re cooking in, how tight the lid fits on, how hot your oven is, etc. I don’t remember there being a ton of evaporation here, but you’re bound to get some. It doesn’t matter too much as long as there’s plenty of liquid left to keep the cooking environment very very moist, especially because you’re going to boil it down (reduce it) in the end anyway. However, if the liquid is actively boiling when you pull the pork out to turn it, turn down your oven a bit so as not to cook the belly too aggressively.

I bet it will turn out just fine. . . let us know!

Reply

steven glasl July 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm

by the end of it not much evaporated actually! it was just that one time and it stayed that amount the rest of the braising period in the oven. it turned out great. awesome call on crisping the skin in the broiler. this is the first time and def not the last ill be doing this.

Reply

Talley July 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

great! so glad it worked out for you.

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Anfritz27 January 12, 2013 at 4:55 am

I don’t even know how I got here, but I remember looking up something about lengua sliders after watching Andrew Zimmern in San Francisco..I’m so glad I found your corner of the internet. Your recipes are amazing, and the best part is they are real down home cooking with sustainable and usually farm raised products. You don’t shy away from the delicious bits of meat that most people tend to throw away and your meals are always hearty. I’ll be trying quite a few recipes from your site and thanks again.

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