Tag: Pork Belly

Spicy Red-Braised Pork Belly

Spicy Red-braised Pork Belly 1

In her book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China, Fuchsia Dunlop devotes part of her book to her travels in Hunan province, the birthplace of Mao Xedong, and she presents us with a recipe for a dish said to be a favorite of the Chairman himself, and which she calls ‘Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork-Belly’.

I have discussed the Chinese cookery technique of ‘red cooking’ (or ‘red-braising’)before,  and have even posted several recipes in that style over the years. Today, I am presenting a dish that is inspired by Ms. Dunlop’s recipe, but which departs from it through the use of different seasonings. In addition to dried chilies, Ms. Dunlop uses Star Anise and Cinnamon…  I have replaced the dried chili with a Chinese Chili Paste and then omitted the other two spices for Fennel Seed and Black Cardamom, along with some dried orange peel, thus giving the dish a bit more of a slant towards Sichuan, rather than the Hunanese original … Continue reading “Spicy Red-Braised Pork Belly”

Notable Nosh: Braised Pork Belly

Braised Pork Belly

I had this little appetizer at Sabor in Edmonton. A few days earlier I enjoyed a terrific meal there but this particular item was not nearly as good and I feature it here because it illustrates the pairing of two foodstuffs that have become ‘fads’ in recent years.

Pork Belly, until 5 or, perhaps, 10 years ago, was a very under-appreciated and underused cut but  which has since blossomed as a ‘foodie favorite’ such that any restaurant that aspires to fine dining is essentially required to include it in at least one dish. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it should mean that the cut should be prepared in such a way as to let its special qualities shine.

In a similar way, Balsamic Vinegar exploded onto the culinary scene about a decade or so ago, and went from relative obscurity to overhyped and undeserved culinary stardom. I love the scene in one of ‘The Sopranos’ episodes when Carmela entertains her parents for dinner and the mother asks what is in the escarole. Carmela replies that it is Balsamic and her father interjects:

‘Balsamic, Balsamic, Balsamic … my mother never heard of Balsamic’

Thirty years ago, I used to see Balsamic Vinegar mentioned in the odd Italian cookbook, but it was years before I ever saw a bottle in a store here in Canada. True Balsamic Vinegar is originally a specialty of Modena in Italy, and the properly aged article can sell for hundreds of dollars for just a few ounces. Nowadays, however, you see it everywhere and the truth is that most of the stuff available in stores, or used by restaurants, could easily be substituted with a plain Apple Cider vinegar colored with a little caramel. As in the little appetizer featured here, you can stick the name Balsamic into a name and it lends a cachet to a dish that is out of proportion to the actual quality.

The menu at Sabor described this dish is being ‘Braised Pork Belly in a Quince-Balsamic reduction. I cannot attest to the use of quince here as I couldn’t detect much on the way of fruity sweetness, but it was pretty clear that the drizzled dressing did contain one of the products that pass as Balsamic Vinegar. The effect was not bad, I suppose, but really nothing special.

As for the pork belly itself… it may have been braised briefly, but it appeared to have been finished quickly on a grill or griddle. The latter process was not long enough to lend it any nice charring or caramelization, and the ultimate result was pretty much the same as plain pan-frying, without the unctiously tender qualities you get when the cut is well prepared. The entire production, in short, was really just a glaring example of exploiting the cachet of certain foodstuffs and failing to deliver anything special at all.

Anyway… here endeth the rant…

 

 

 

Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard Greens

When I featured Pickled Mustard Greens in a recent foodstuffs post, I mentioned that my wife and I especially like them cooked with pork belly slices. My wife is out of town at the moment but I have a hankering for this homey dish so I thought I would whip up a batch for my supper and share the very simple little recipe with you…  Continue reading “Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard Greens”

Pork Belly Confit

Before we begin, I want to say that what I doing in this experiment is a Confit in only the loosest sense of the word. As readers will recall from my post on Pork Belly, not only do my wife and I really enjoy eating the meat, I love cooking with the rendered fat. Unfortunately, fresh Pork belly only appears in our stores infrequently so, when I see it, I tend to grab as much as I can. Yesterday, I picked up about four pounds of it and I decided that, rather than just save the rendered fat from separate batches, I would render it all at once and use it as a covering the cooked slices so that they will be handily available for quick cooking as needed. As I am brining the pork slices first, I will in fact be adopting much of the basic process for making a confit… Continue reading “Pork Belly Confit”

Experiment: Spaghetti Carbonara with Pork Belly

Spaghetti Carbonara is a pasta classic and one of my favorites. After having one of the worst examples of it ever served to me at the Medusa Restaurant in Montreal recently, I decided that I would have a go at making it again.

A Carbonara is basically pasta with sautéed bacon to which eggs and cheese are added to make a rich sauce. This alone makes this dish something of a ‘heart attack special’ but heavy cream is also frequently added for a truly decadent deliciousness. Traditionally, either Italian pancetta or guanciale are used as the pork component but in American versions, regular bacon is often substituted. I have made it many times with regular smoked bacon and I actually prefer it to pancetta, but guanciale (or cured hog-jowls) is truly excellent. I have no chance of finding that locally at present but it struck me that uncured pork belly might go very well instead …  Continue reading “Experiment: Spaghetti Carbonara with Pork Belly”

Experiment: Green Peppers stir-fry Pork Belly

The above dish uses the pork belly that I pre-cooked for an illustration in a recent ‘Foodstuffs’ post, and which was featured as the complement to my Tomatoes stir-fry eggs experiment a few days ago. The inspiration of this dish is quite obviously Chinese but it is intended as a breakfast dish and thus is kept very simple: Continue reading “Experiment: Green Peppers stir-fry Pork Belly”