Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recession-Proof Eating : Braised Pork Belly

Good food doesn't have to take up much of your time or finances. You just have to know where to get your ingredients and create the right things that can be used in other recipes (which I like to call progressive meal planning) and also provide a satisfying experience at every step of the way.

For example, today we decided finally take advantage of Tom Collichio's {Braised Fresh "Bacon"} recipe which is included in his absolutely fantastic food lovers book titled 'Think Like a Chef'. The reasons to create this recipe were very evident, but the only one that triggered the the steps involved were the fact that it just looked KILLER. Other reasons included cheap ingredients and a surplus of byproducts like brown chicken stock.

Basically, we had to make white chicken stock, then brown chicken stock (which includes the white stock as an ingredient) and then slowly braise a pork belly. This entire process would take all day, but it was worth it for the smells alone.

I don't want to post every step here because I think you can get to this recipe if you already know how to make brown chicken stock. If you don't, the fundamentals can be found here, via google, or nearly any french or contemporary cookbook. I did follow Tom's recipe this time around since he was the inspiration for dinner.

The main reason that I wanted to post about this meal was because it only cost about 7 dollars worth of ingredients to make and a bit of time (and thyme). This meal will give about 2 days worth of meals for 2 people and also some extra brown stock to use in multiple recipes for the rest of the week.

Chinatown, which is the best place to get fundamental ingredients if you have access, supplied us with 2 lbs pork belly for $5 and also 6 chicken carcasses for $1 (for the white and brown stock). The rest was just simple ingredients that we've either grown like herbs, or come from our organic Bryson Farms weekly delivery.

So here is the recipe for the pork belly by the Top Chef. It's still braising in the oven and the smell is creating an incredible anticipation that can only be enjoyed by putting passion into creating meals.

from Chowhounds:

GQ magazine voted this their favorite meat dish of the year, after strenuous debate over whether I should call it “fresh bacon” or “pork belly.” Whatever you want to call it, it is rich and delicious. When you buy pork belly, be sure to have the butcher leave the skin on.

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin on
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • About 3 cups brown chicken stock
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until the oil slides easily across the pan. Salt and pepper the pork, and add it, fat side down, to the skillet. Cook until the skin is browned, about 15 minutes, then transfer the pork to a plate.
  2. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat and add the onion, carrots, celery, leek, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Return the pork belly to the skillet, fat side up, and add about 2 cups of stock (it should surround but not cover the meat). Bring the stock to a simmer, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Gently simmer the pork, uncovered, for 1 hour, then add another cup of stock. Continue cooking until the pork is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 1 hour longer.
  3. Allow the pork to cool in the braising liquid. Remove the pork from the liquid, then gently lift off and discard the skin (use a small knife to separate any pieces that don’t come away from the fat easily). Score the fat, making crosshatch incisions, then cut the pork into 4 equal pieces.
  4. Turn up the oven to 400°F. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids. Return the liquid to the skillet, bring it to a simmer, and skim off the fat. Return pork, fat side up, to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, without basting, until the pork is heated through and the fat nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve the pork in a shallow bowl moistened with a bit of the braising liquid.

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