Every Saturday, Chef Mark McEwan, one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, serves up everything you need for a weekend meal, including a recipe and expert at-home cooking tips.
This is a delicious, well-balanced recipe! The pork belly is, of course, the star. The three-day marinating stage leaves your pork belly extra aromatic and flavourful. If time isn’t on your side, try to marinate for at least 24 hours. It will work wonders! When you’re buying pork belly, make sure that it’s fresh and not frozen and always choose a belly that has a 50/50 ratio of fat to lean. As an appetizer I would go very light, like a consommé or a crudo of scallop and, for a wine pairing, a not-too-rich Riesling would work perfectly.
1. Always brine your pork belly. This is a crucial step to enhance tenderness and to help retain moisture.
2. Adding weight to the belly is also important: By weighting the belly, it will jell in a very exact shape so precise measuring and cutting can be achieved. This helps with portioning and presentation too.
3. To seamlessly remove the skin from the cooked pork, allow a very sharp knife to run up against the skin, then pull it gently back.
Glazed Pork Belly
1/2 cup (125 mL) kosher salt
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated
1/4 cup (50 mL) honey
1/4 cup (50 mL) smashed garlic cloves
1 tbsp (15 mL) coriander seeds
1 tbsp (15 mL) black peppercorns
6 bay leaves
2 makrut lime leaves
1/4 bunch thyme
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 small knob ginger, thinly slicked
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
4 star anise, broken
3 lb (1.5 kg) pork belly, in one piece, skin on
2 quarts (2 L) pork or white chicken stock
1/4 cup (50 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) Asian-inspired glaze
In a Dutch oven large enough to hold the pork snugly, combine salt, sugar, honey, garlic, coriander seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves, lime leaves, thyme, cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, and star anise with 5 cups (1.25 L) cold water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Then chill. Once cooled, completely submerge the pork in the brine (add cold water if necessary to cover). Refrigerate for three days.
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
Remove the pork from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse under cold running water, and pat dry. Bring the stock to a simmer. Place the pork in a roasting pan or casserole dish just large enough to accommodate the slab, cover with the stock, and transfer to the oven. Check the stock level periodically and top it up if evaporation leaves the pork exposed. After 2 1/2 hours test the pork for tenderness. If it does not yet yield easily when prodded with a fork, braise for another 30 minutes — and carry on thus until the meat is very tender.
Remove the pork from the braising liquid (discarding the liquid) and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper, then with a second baking sheet, add weight (bricks, tins of tomatoes, a small case of beer, what have you), and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
Remove the skin from the pork and cut the pork into six equal portions. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is nearly smoking, then sear the pork on all sides until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a baking dish, brush with the glaze, and transfer to the oven. After 10 minutes turn the pork and glaze the second side. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the glaze is tacky and the pork is thoroughly heated through. Serves 6.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) coriander seeds, toasted 3 minutes
2 tbsp (30 mL) fennel seeds, toasted 3 minutes
4 star anise, toasted 3 minutes
2 cups (500 mL) honey
1 cup (250 mL) soy sauce
1 cup (250 mL) sake
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) sambaI oelek
Gently fry garlic and ginger in the vegetable oil 3 to 5 minutes — do not brown. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until syrupy, about 1 hour.
Soubise Rice Cakes
1 cup (250 mL) basmati rice
1 Spanish onion, minced
5 tbsp (75 mL) soft butter
1/4 cup (50 mL) Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 tbsp (7 mL) jalapeno, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) clarified butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine rice, onion, 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the butter, and 1 tsp (5 ml) salt with 2 cups (500 mL) cold water in a lidded ovenproof saucepan. Transfer to the oven and bake until the rice is tender — about 45 minutes. Leave the pot in the oven for 15 minutes longer (leave the oven on).
Remove and let cool slightly. While the rice is still hot, pass it through a food mill fitted with the medium disc into a bowl. Add the remaining butter along with the Parmesan and jalapeno; mix well. Taste, and correct seasonings. Then chill to stiffen. Mould the rice mash into small pucks at least an inch (2.5 cm) thick.
Heat the clarified butter and the oil in an ovenproof non-stick skillet on medium. Fry the rice cakes until golden, then flip them, and when the second side is nearly done, transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for a further 3 to 4 minutes — but no longer, or the rice cakes will collapse.
Chef Mark McEwan is a Toronto-based chef, entrepreneur, mentor and writer of best-selling cookbooks. He is a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @chef_MarkMcEwan
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