I really outdid myself with tonight’s dinner. It was a total ad-lib – not recipe written in advance, just randomly trying to make something good. It turned out so good that I need to write down what I did, so that I can make it again!
Part 1: the pork
- 2 1/2 pounds pork belly. I’m picky about pork; if I’m going to eat it, I want it to be good. I didn’t grow up eating pork. My family didn’t keep kosher, but we didn’t bring pork into the house. To this day, I don’t like most pork. Grocery store pork is, typically, bland, greasy, and generally nasty stuff. But the first real pork that I ate was at Momofuku in Manhattan. It was Berkshire pork, from a farm in upstate NY. That was delicious. Since then I’ve experimented, and I really think that nothing compares to fresh Berkshire. It costs a lot more than grocery store pork, but it’s worth it. I order it direct from Flying Pig Farm.
- 4 cloves garlic.
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel pollen.
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary.
- 1 tablespoons olive oil.
- 1/4 cup salt.
- 1/4 cup sugar.
- Prepare the pork belly: trim off the skin, and any egregiously extra fat from the skin side.
- Put the garlic, fennel pollen, rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the olive oil into a mortar and pestle, and crush them to a paste.
- Coat the pork with the herb paste.
- Add fresh-ground black pepper to the pork.
- Mix together 1/4 cup each of sugar and salt, and coat the pork with it.
- Put the pork into the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, remove the pork from the fridge, and discard any liquids that were drawn out by the salt.
- Sealed the pork in a sous vide bag, and cook at 190 degrees for
5 hours. (If you don’t have a sous vide machine, you could probably
do it covered in a 200 degree oven. You’ll probably want to add a bit
- Take out the pork, and separate the meat from the liquid that’s collected in the bags. (Do NOT discard it; that’s pure flavor!) Put
both into the fridge for a couple of hours to cool.
- When it’s cool, the fat that rendered out of the pork will have solidifed – remove it, and discard it. (Or keep it for something else.)
- Cut the pork into 2 inch thick chunks.
- In a smoking hot cast iron pan, brown the pork chunks on all sides.
- Add in the reserved liquids, along with 1/4 cup of port wine.
Reduce until it forms a glaze over the pork. Remove the pork to a
plate – it’s done!
Part 2: the Polenta
- 1 cup polenta. I use very coarse polenta – I like my polenta to have some texture. (My friend Anoop teases me, insisting that I’m making grits.)
- 4 cups chicken stock.
- 1 cup water.
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 1 tablespoon butter.
- 2 ounces chevre goat cheese.
- Put the salt, water, and chicken stock into a pan, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, and stir in the polenta.
- Cook the polenta on medium low to low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove from heat, add in the butter, and stir until it’s all melted and blended in.
- crumble the goat cheese in, and stir it in.
Part 3: the assembly.
- Put a big pile of the polenta in the middle of a plate.
- Put a couple of chunks of the glazed pork onto the polenta.
- Put sauteed asparagus around the outside.