Sunday, January 20, 2008

Romancing the Swine: Pork Belly Confit

Now, tell me, what could be better than the fattiest cut of pork, cooked slowly in its own rendered fat, then preserved by submersion in its own fat, and later dug out of its own fat and deep fried in said fat? Did I mention pork fat? Obviously, not something you'd want to eat on a daily basis, but every now and then you have to throw caution to the wind and go for it, and for me that often involves pig.

This recipe took a circuitous route to get here. It's adapted from Veronica's adaptation of Jim Drohman's formula, as published in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie.

2 oz kosher salt
2 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 bay leaves, crushed and finely chopped
10 springs fresh thyme
2 lbs pork belly, skin removed and cut into 1 x 2 inch chunks
Rendered lard, about 3 lb
1 bottle dry white wine (Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc)

Combine salt, pepper, herbs and spices. Dredge pork belly chunks through this mixture to coat, pack into a nonreactive container, such as a stainless steel bowl, and cover with the wine:

Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

Preheat oven to 250F. Remove pork belly chunks from the wine and pat dry. Pack into an oven-safe container deep enough that the chunks can be completely submerged in the lard. Melt the lard and pour it into the container and set on stove:

Bring to a simmer and place into the oven. Cook uncovered for 2-3 hours, until pork belly is fork tender. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add more rendered lard to cover if necessary. You want the meat to be completely submerged. Cover container with foil and store it in the fridge (the pork belly at this point is "confited," and will keep for up to two months).

Just prior to serving confit, pull container from fridge and place on stove over low heat to melt lard. Pull confited pork belly chunks from container, and pour off lard into a small saucepan, adding more if necessary. Heat lard to 340-350F (lard has a relatively low smoke point, around 360F. A candy/deep fry thermometer is more than useful here, it's pretty much a necessity). Deep fry confited pork belly, a few chunks at a time, in lard for 2-3 minutes. You can pan fry it as well, but deep frying will create a more even crust. I had something very similar to this once at Clyde Common, where they served it with stone ground mustard, pickled onions and an ice cold shot of vodka, a treatment that was damn near close to perfect.

Send any leftovers to the American Heart Association.


Anonymous said...

Omigod, the calories! Unfortunately, I'll have to pass on this one. I remember how much you enjoyed the one at Clyde Common. LGS

Trisha said...

I feel my arteries closing as I read this!

tommy said...

You'll probably want to eat a couple pounds of broccoli and down a few fish oil capsules to counteract its effects...