Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Swine Divine:
Pork Belly on Special

The bacon craze is everywhere as evidenced by abundant use of bacon on restaurant menus. Chefs offer glazed bacon with maple as a sweeter side dish.  And then there's your more typical usage of bacon as a salad or burger topping.  A nice slice of crispy bacon almost pairs well with anything.

But, did you know that bacon is simply cured pork belly? So, why not skip a step, forego the bacon and seduce your palate with the flavor of the pork belly. Our dish offers the crispy seared - but still tender enough to cut with a fork - pork belly alongside pan-seared sea scallops, cauliflower mashed potato and grand marnier flavored pork jus.

As is the case with most inexperienced diners, if you have not tried something on a menu before, chances are that you will not put your money towards something new for fear of not enjoying your meal. While pork chops, pulled pork and bacon litter restaurant menus with choices, it is not often that you see pork belly. So what is it?

Pork belly is exactly what it says, the underbelly of the pig. It is where bacon comes from after the pork belly has been cured.  This is what gives bacon its smoky, salty flavor we all love. Pork belly is juicier and has a texture more similar to that of a pork chop.

Each belly has three distinct textures: a thin layer of skin, then ribbons of silky fat, and finally streaks of reddish pink meat. The cooking process is what sets pork belly apart from any pork you've ever had before. The belly needs to be slowly cooked or braised, covered to allow moisture to help slowly break down the fat, most specifically the layer just under the skin. This will help to break down the collagen, making a once tough cut of meat into a meltingly-tender mouthful of delicious.

After the belly is prepared in this fashion, it must rest overnight so the belly can absorb all of the flavorful fat and become a firm piece of meat that will be much easier to cook with. Resting overnight allows the belly to be readied for the perfect finishing touch... the final sear. Put that belly over a cast iron skillet at high heat and sear the perfect amount of crispness on top while warming the rest of the portion all the way through.

What we have created for you, first time pork belly connoisseur or not, is simply swine divine.

No comments:

Post a Comment