Richard Blais crashed in the final moments of Top Chef Season 4 when his pressure-cooked pork belly did not turn out to be as delicious, or nearly as tender, as he had hoped: He didn't leave the meat in long enough. Gail Simmons chooses to stick with a more classic cooking method, marinating the pork overnight and braising it in a savory soy-and-mirin broth.
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1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 pounds pork belly, skin removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Pickled Radishes and steamed rice, for serving
How to Make It
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, mirin, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Cut the pork belly in half crosswise, roughly into two 6-inch squares. Add the pork belly to the marinade and seal the bag, pressing out any excess air. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Remove the pork from the bag and pat dry with paper towels; reserve the marinade. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pork and cook over moderately low heat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to a plate.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the casserole. Add the onion, season lightly with salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the marinade and chicken broth and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the casserole. Return the pork to the casserole and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat is nearly tender. Uncover and braise for 1 hour longer, until the meat is very tender.
Transfer the pork to a baking sheet fat side up. Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl and spoon off the fat. Return the broth to the casserole and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the pork 8 inches from the heat until crisp, about 2 minutes; cut it into twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange in shallow bowls. Spoon the broth all around and garnish with the scallions. Serve with Pickled Radishes and rice.
The pork can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated in the broth for up to 4 days. Reheat before proceeding.
Pork belly is rich, so any wine without substantial tannins tends to disappear when served with it. A red wine from the Rhône Valley will make a good partner.
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