This Little Piggy Got Braised

More Heston Blumenthal for dinner last night: braised pork belly. If braising is happening, it must be fall…

I cheated a bit with this dish, which calls for a 12 hour brining followed by an 18 hour braise and at least an hour of rest prior to the last few steps. I was only able to brine for 8 hours, and I left out a few of the aromatics in the brine. Although I’m looking forward to making this again “properly”, I can report that these shortcuts didn’t prevent the dish from being fantastic.

The brining involved salt, star anise, bay leaves, coriander, allspice, juniper and garlic. Since I was running late for a lunch date with MC Warmspice, I left out cloves, thyme, rosemary, and orange and lemon zest.

While the belly brined, I made Heston’s brown chicken stock. That’s the subject of another post. Suffice it to say that pressure cooked stock is some excellent sort of voodoo. Here’s the lovely, gelatinized stock, surrounding the pork belly and some chopped carrots and onion:

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Having brought that to a simmer, I sent it off on an 18 hour odyssey in a 160’F oven. With five hours remaining, I took the pig’s skin, put it on a rack, and left it in the company of the belly from whence it came.

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The skin had a tattoo and a nipple, but the nipple wasn’t pierced. Does that still count as a hipster pig?

Anyway. Long story short: braising liquid was reduced, mashed potatoes were made, pork fat was scored in a diamond pattern…

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… then warmed up in the reduced braising liquid and seared for about 30 seconds in a cast iron pan.

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The cracklings… chicharones… pork rinds had formed an artful little tube:

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(Okay, YES, it looks like a hybrid dog toy / dog turd.)

And here’s the plated dish, in all its lipidacious splendour:

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