Twice-cooked Pork Belly with Pick­led Mush­rooms and Leeks

SERVES 6–8; Photo pg. 61

SAVEUR - - Contents -

Ac­tive: 2 hr. • To­tal: 5 hr. (plus overnight cur­ing)

A roast of fresh pork belly is com­mon fare both in Fin­land and in the Amer­i­can Mid­west. The au­thor slow-roasts the belly, then slices and sears it, crisp­ing the meat in its own ren­der­ings. “Fresh dill in the pick­led vegetable side dish is my own ad­di­tion,” she says. “Tra­di­tion­ally, they might use dry dill in­stead of fresh in the win­ter in Fin­land.”

1 5-lb. piece skin­less, meaty pork belly 2¾ tsp. kosher salt, di­vided 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme 1 tsp. freshly ground black pep­per 1 tsp. gar­lic pow­der 1 tsp. minced fresh sage ⅔ cup white wine vine­gar ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 3 large strips lemon zest 1 Tbsp. sugar

8 oz. king oys­ter mush­rooms (about 12) 4 medium leeks (2 lb. 6 oz.), outer leaves re­moved Canola oil, as needed for sear­ing the pork 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Ital­ian pars­ley

1 The day be­fore you plan to roast the meat, cure and tie the roast: In a small bowl, com­bine 2 tea­spoons salt with the thyme, pep­per, gar­lic pow­der, and sage. Lay the pork on a cutting board and rub it all over with the salt mix­ture. Start­ing with the wider end, roll the pork belly into a tight cylin­der (ide­ally, the ends should over­lap slightly). Us­ing kitchen twine, tightly tie the roll cross­wise ev­ery 2 inches.

2 Trans­fer to a rack set in a bak­ing pan and re­frig­er­ate un­cov­ered for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

3 Pre­heat the oven to 350°. Us­ing pa­per tow­els, sop up any juices that have ac­cu­mu­lated in the bak­ing pan and dis­card. Tent the pork loosely with foil. Trans­fer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Lower the oven tem­per­a­ture to 325°, and roast 1 hour more. Re­duce the tem­per­a­ture to 300°, re­move the foil, and roast the pork un­til it feels ten­der when poked with a fork, an­other 1¾ to 2 hours. Re­move from the oven, and let cool to room tem­per­a­ture.

4 Trans­fer the pork to a plat­ter. Pour the fat and juices from the pan into a bowl and re­serve. (Pork can be roasted a day in ad­vance. Wrap and re­frig­er­ate, then bring to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore pro­ceed­ing.)

5 Pre­pare the pick­led mush­rooms and leeks: In a small sau­cepan, com­bine ¼ cup wa­ter with the vine­gar, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, ¾ tea­spoon salt, and 2 ta­ble­spoons re­served pork fat and juices; bring to a sim­mer. Re­move from the heat, trans­fer to a wide bowl, and set aside.

6 Trim the mush­rooms and rub clean with a wet cloth. Slice them into ½-inch-thick pieces. 7 Care­fully trim the leeks, leav­ing the root ends at­tached and leav­ing 4 inches of green on the tops. Slice the leeks down the mid­dle (con­tinue to leave the root ends at­tached) and rinse them well un­der cold run­ning wa­ter, tak­ing care to keep them in­tact. Sand­wich the leeks back to­gether, and us­ing kitchen twine, tie them into two bun­dles.

8 Bring a large pot of wa­ter to boil and set a bowl of ice wa­ter next to the stove. Add the leeks to the boil­ing wa­ter and let cook un­til just ten­der when poked with a fork, 4–6 min­utes.

9 Us­ing tongs, trans­fer the leeks to the ice wa­ter. When cool to the touch, drain com­pletely. Re­move the string and any wilted outer leaves, and slice the leeks into 3-inch-long pieces on the di­ag­o­nal.

10 Heat a large cast-iron skil­let over high heat. Sea­son the mush­rooms and leeks with some salt and pep­per. Add enough pork fat to the pan to just thinly coat the bot­tom, 2–3 ta­ble­spoons. (If there isn’t enough pork fat, you can add canola oil as needed.) Once hot, working in batches, add the leeks in a sin­gle layer; cook, turn­ing once, un­til lightly caramelized all over, about 4 min­utes per side. Trans­fer the leeks to the bowl of pick­ling liq­uid as you work, then pro­ceed with the re­main­ing leeks and the mush­rooms, cook­ing the mush­rooms about 4 min­utes per batch. Toss all of the veg­eta­bles in the pick­ling liq­uid to coat. Set aside at room tem­per­a­ture.

11 Fin­ish the pork: Cut away the twine, then slice the pork cross­wise into 1-inch-thick slabs. Heat a large cast-iron skil­let over medium-high heat and add as many pieces of pork as you can fit; let cook, turn­ing as needed, un­til crispy and browned on both sides, 8 min­utes to­tal. Trans­fer the slices to a large plat­ter and re­peat with the re­main­ing pieces, dis­card­ing some of the ex­cess fat from the pan if de­sired. Sprin­kle the dill and pars­ley over the pork. Spoon the pick­led vegetable mix­ture on and around the pieces and serve im­me­di­ately.

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