Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries, Day 2, Pork and Beans (not exactly)

The Art of Texture

The supermarkets are continuing to restock, toilet paper apparently is just as high of a commodity as bleach and face masks, but you know what isn’t moving, Pork Belly.
Chicken is limited to 3 packs per person in some supermarkets, egg shelves are empty, potatoes are in short supply too, so now is when my inner child goes wild. I love being given the challenging task of making something out of what is at hand, namely the fatty slab of meat not many know what to do with called Pork Belly, Pancetta in Italian and just for all of you who may not know, it is actually what bacon is made from. The butcher counter always has it, while steaks were sold out, ground beef long gone and the anxiety over the chicken palpable,
I had them cut a long fat slice about 3 inches wide and 7 inches long. As with any meat the fat should be super white, if it is yellowed it is a sign that it’s old and just leave it alone and move on.
Now is when I must interject, making things in batches and utilizing same ingredients in different ways is super key to quarantine cooking! Pork Belly must be brined for 24 hours before cooking, the whole thing is a long process but it will keep for five days so buy enough that you can use again in other ways. I’ll make sure to include it in my next few days here and there.
We made poke bowls yesterday and I didn’t use all of my radishes or beets so we are using them here treated differently for color, acid and heat. I started my brine on Saturday when I bought the belly and cooked it yesterday so today it was ready to actually eat. Yes, a three day process but hey if it is one thing you have right now more than ever before it is time.
My accompaniments to this dish are decidedly Middle Eastern in flavor so if you are not gluten free, as I am, grab some Pita or Naan, at worst a corn tortilla will also work!

Seared Pork Belly with Cannellini Bean Hummus, Radishes, Beets and Kale Pesto

1 slab of pork belly
Smoked paprika
Salt pepper
1 can cannellini beans
3 tbsp tahini
Juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
Olives / pitted ( you can thank my partner who inadvertently bit down on one)
Cauliflower curried
Kale pesto as garnish

2 days prior :
Salt, pepper and smoke paprika heavily the pork belly, wrap in parchment and foil and put in the fridge and forget about it.

1 day prior:
Set oven to 275F and place your pork belly in a cast iron pan wrapped as it was in the fridge or in a glass baking dish and bake for 3 hours.
Let it sit out and cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, resist trying it... or don’t, go ahead it’s amazing!

Day of :
Remove from fridge and take a bit of the now solidified pork fat and place in a pan, slice the pork belly into cubes and start your hummus.
Drain cannellini beans and place in a food processor with the garlic, lemon, tahini and purée. Maybe a touch of salt but your pork belly is salty so not too much. The garlic is hefty it’s a garlicky hummus, so if you’re not a fan reduce the garlic to one clove but remember we are balancing salt, fat AND heat.
Grate your radishes on a cheese grater and place in a small beautiful mound on the plate
Do the same with your beets.

Take kale or shard or even spinach and process with a little olive oil to make a deep green oil drizzle for color.
Once all is ready create your plate ..
A dollop
Of hummus, a few olives, little mounds of beets and radishes and a few drops of emerald green oil/ pesto

Heat your pork fat on high and place pork belly cubes fat side down in the pan searing on each side to create a crispy, browned “skin” about 30 seconds per side.
Bring to a cutting board and slice into bite size pieces and arrange atop the hummus.
Have naan or pita or corn tortillas at the ready to scoop up the delishessness !
And to think a cheap piece of meat and an can of beans. ...

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