Two words: PORK BELLY.
I know, I know. So trendy right now. But here’s the thing, it’s cheap as hell and if you cook it forever and a day, it comes out looking thusly:
Because as it turns out, I happen to have $3.00 a lb and forever and a day (or rather, a weekend with nothing better to do than brine and braise a big piece of fat. It’s called having a baby, otherwise known as the death of your social life).
The beans and corn? Oh yeah, about that. I didn’t really think past the belly, so that was just what I threw together to give le belly a place of repose. Not worthy.
But let’s take it back to the beginning, shall we?
Virgin pork belly:
How she looks after a 10-hour salt water bath:
What follows are many hours of braising, and then if you want to get all fancy…..(And you do. Trust.)…..you should press it between baking dishes and throw that bitch in the fridge for a day or so. Then you can reheat and slice it into compressed cubes that look so perfect they could have been pooped out of Thomas Keller himself (this is his recipe, btw).
Pork Belly, Part Deux
Overly confident during my second attempt (“who needs to read the recipe again, psstt”), I overlooked two crucial factors:
1) As mentioned, she needs to braise for five hours. A logical person would not, then, put her in the oven at 7:00 pm.
2) A logical person would also not forget that “covered” relates to “lid” as in “put a freaking lid over it while braising for five hours.”
When my alarm went off at midnight, my better half woke up in a state of confusion. I knew exactly how much time I had before that confusion would turn to disbelief, then anger, and then regret that he agreed to marry me (13 seconds). There was a moment there where I considered keeping him in the confusion stage by blaming the beep on the dishwasher and just going back to sleep. Braising is braising, right? What’s another five hours?
It’s a DAMN good thing I shuffled my ass into the kitchen because when you forget to put a lid over your pork belly, all the liquid in the pan evaporates and what’s left is a black tar thick enough to keep one of our infamous potholes plugged for decades:
We were T-5 from waking up to a smoke alarm, and that would have been much more difficult to blame on the dishwasher.
But Part Deux turned out alright, if not a little jerky-like. Here she blows: