Ah, yes. The pork belly. You see, the culinary world is much like the fashion world and pork belly has certainly had its 'Members Only jacket moment' in the sun recently. Its gotten to the point where there is almost a backlash against bacon and all things pork because almost every food mag and restaurant has taken a seat on the 'pork train' and we've seen some ridiculous, 'creative'(by creative, I really mean stupid) uses of bacon. As a result of the hoopla, I've eaten a bunch of great pork belly, but I've also eaten some iterations of pork belly that were, at best, horrible.(like so bad, I was wishing it had just been turned into grocery store bacon instead of the dish I had just eaten) These bad versions are the primary reason that I'm REALLY glad that everyone is backing away from the pork belly craze. The secondary reason is that now we can get back to properly executing what is a really amazing cut of meat to cook.
I've never claimed to be the first guy at the offal/non-tenderloin cuts party. However, I sometimes I do claim to be that guy at the party who is dancing by himself in the corner way to early in the evening. Yeah, I said it, I'm drunk with my love of offal and when the magazines and bloggers stop talking about pork belly or lamb neck or beef tongue or duck testicles, I'm still gonna be cooking them because, for me, it's not about the hype or trend; these are just way more flavorful cuts than a pallid plate of beef tenderloin.
So, back to the point. Pork belly. More specifically, this dish is wildflower honey glazed pork belly with a mushroom duxelle smeared brioche crouton and spring vegetables(asparagus, baby carrot, spring onion, morel mushrooms, pearl onion). First we take the belly and give it a quick cure of salt, sugar and pepper. Then, it's packed and off to take a bath for 24 hours. After coming out of the bath, we gently place the belly between to pans and weight it down over night. Once chilled, the belly cuts cut into portions and held until we're ready to complete the dish.
When it's time to start the dish, we dust the belly in Wondra flour and gently brown each side of the meat. The meat is then removed from the pan and the pan is deglazed with a mixture of wildflower honey, sherry vinegar and pork stock. Once gently reduced, the pork is added back to the stock and basted until the stock reaches a nice glaze consistency. Unlike other dishes, we do not add a knob of butter to the pan because we're looking for the acidity of the sherry vinegar to help cut the richness(and YES it is rich!) of the pork. The crouton is fried in chicken fat(yeah, it's good) and smeared with a mushroom duxelle that has been deglazed with Pernod. So, crouton+duxelle+pork belly+glazed vegetables. Finally a bit of glazing liquid as sauce for the plate and we're done.
So, this is just another sneak peak into our Spring menu which hits this wednesday. If you've never tried pork belly, come by and give this a shot. If you've had pork belly before, but weren't blown away by it, come by and give this a shot. Oh yeah, be on the lookout for a killer beef tongue, too!!!! I'm off to find my Members Only jacket.