Pork Belly

As Simple As It Gets

HoniAnn is spending a week in Fish Creek, Louisiana at her quilting partner, Marilyn’s, family farm. I love that name, Fish Creek. Early settlers gave their communities simple names reflective of their surroundings, much as the Indians did in naming their newborns. Fish Creek is right up there with Woman Hollering Creek, my all-time favorite. You’ll cross WHC on I-10 as you drive toward San Antonio. I would love to know what the locals must have heard to have attached that name to it. Ghostly, don’t you think?

Anyway, HoniAnn took a pork belly with her as her hostess loves our pork. Marilyn started the belly by searing it in an iron skillet on both sides then putting it in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours. Mind you, there were no seasonings added. Just the pork, please. They raved about it.

The lesson here? Start with good product and keep it simple. Let the meat speak for itself. Here’s what it looked like:

Jolie Vue Farms - Pot Roast

Recipe: Pork Belly

Ryan Hartzog sends this photo and recipe for a very savory rendition of the JVF pork belly. I know how flavorful the belly can be with a simple recipe – throw it on the grill until done. So this one must take us to pork heaven! Check out these ingredients and processes – definitely a Sunday meal.

Thank you, Ryan, with attribution to Gordon Ramsey.

JVF Pork Belly

Ryan Hartzog

Ryan Hartzog

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pound Jolie Vue Farms Pork Belly (Skin on if possible)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and roughly sliced
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods, bashed
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 cups white wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock (depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Score the pork belly skin diagonally in a diamond pattern at 1 inch intervals. Season generously with salt and pepper, rubbing it well into the skin.
  3. Put the fennel, bay leaves, garlic, cardamom, star anise and half the fennel seeds into a hot roasting tray on the stove top with a little oil and heat for about 2 minutes until aromatic. Push to the side of the tray, then add the pork, skin side down, and cook for at least 5 minutes until turning golden brown. Turn the pork over, season the skin again with salt and sprinkle with the remaining fennel seeds. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom (be careful not to get the skin of the pork wet). Bring to the boil, then pour in enough stock to come up to the layer of fat just below the skin and allow to boil again. Transfer the tray to the preheated oven and cook for 2½ hours.
  4. Transfer the meat to a warm plate and set aside to rest. Meanwhile, spoon off any excess fat in the roasting tray or drag a slice of bread along the surface of the cooking juices to absorb it. Heat the tray on the stove top, adding the mustard. Mix in with a whisk, then taste and adjust the flavors as necessary.
  5. Remove the star anise and cardamom pods and pour the sauce into a jug. Serve the rested pork with the sauce alongside.

Cooking Tip

I have often recommended a hard sear for our pork belly. It can take it because it’s fat layer is so thick – and delicious when it is a bit charred. But It also makes the meat a little chewier than some like. So here’s an alternative: cook the belly low and slow first and once it is tenderized, throw it in a skillet or on the grill for a finishing sear. Takes longer but you will have tender meat as well as the charred fatty outer layer.

Cara’s Pork Belly

Cara Portnoy is one of many accomplished Foodie’s in our ranks. Here’s her prescription for pork belly.

“Last week we pulled out our fresh bacon and rubbed with salt, whiskey and maple syrup. Smoked it yesterday.”

Just FYI, one of the cuts labeled fresh bacon still had the ribs on it.* We didn't salt it like the other cuts, but just smoked it along with the bacon. Yummmm…that was an awesome dinner. 
Had it alongside some brown rice, prepared adzuki beans, and cashew coconut creamed kale!”

* Note: Pork belly and fresh bacon are one and the same, coming from the meat and fat layer developed alongside the ribs of the pig. Sometimes we ask the butcher to cut it off the ribs, at other times we leave the ribs on. The rib bones only enhance the flavor of the meat.