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Braised Fresh Belly

In Think Like a Chef (Clarkson Potter, 2000) Tom Colicchio of Craft in Manhattan has a wonderful recipe for fresh pork belly.  The recipe that follows is his, but we have simplified things a bit.   Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 lbs pork belly, skin on
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp reserved fat
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part only, trimmed, rinsed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Chicken stock (about 3 cups)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. Heat peanut oil in a large ovenproof skillet.  
  3. Season pork belly, preferably with the skin on, with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  
  4. Add the pork to the skillet, with the fattiest side or skin side down in the pan.  Brown it well on all sides (about 15 minutes), and then remove belly to a plate.
  5. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and add onion, carrots, and celery stalks, leek, and 2 garlic cloves.
  6. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
  7. Return the pork belly to the pan, fattiest side or skin side up, and add enough chicken stock to almost cover the meat.  
  8. Bring the stock to a simmer, and then move the pan into the oven.  
  9. Cook uncovered for about two hours, adding more stock if necessary, until the pork is tender enough to cut with a fork (test it!). This will take some time. The top should be nicely browned. The meat will have shrunk as some of the fat is rendered.
  10. Remove the pork from the pan.
  11. Strain the liquid, discarding the vegetables. Use a gravy separator to separate as much of the liquid from the fat as possible.  
  12. Serve a piece of the pork with some of the liquid, preferably with polenta or mashed potatoes.