Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pressed Belly of Pork, Chile Morita Gravy & Celeriac Purée

Sometimes you have to sin.
Sometimes you just have no choice but to succumb to the powers of the belly.
Imagine a slowly roasted and juicy piece of pork belly with a perfectly golden and crispy crackling to top it off. Serve this with a morita chile gravy, a bright and crisp celeriac purée and bitter rapini.
Yes, please.

I was watching the F Word the other day (one of the very few shows starring Gordon Ramsay that is of quality) and watched him prepare an amazing pressed pork belly recipe. I was inspired by this and have tweaked it according to my needs. My needs being whatever I had in the fridge that needed to be used up.

Think about this: pork belly is a very cheap cut of the pig and in my opinion one the most delicious. It just permeates your senses with an array of beautiful textures and flavours.

Place the belly skin-side upwards, grab a sharp knife and score throughout.
Make sure to only score the fat and not puncture the meat. Salt liberally and toss in olive oil all around.
In an ovenproof pan or roasting tray cut two heads of garlic in half and place them along with some thyme sprigs. They will lift the belly from the surface preventing if from drying out.

Place the belly (gosh, I love saying belly) on top of your bed of wonderful aromatics.
Add 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of chicken or veggie stock. Cover in aluminum.
Toss in an oven that has been preheated to 350F for 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and baste.

After 2 hours it will be succulent and juicy. Take the belly out of the pan to cool for a bit while we work on the gravy. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan where you roasted the belly along with the thyme and garlic. Reduce, add 1 cup of stock and reduce again. Pass the sauce through a sieve making sure to press down on the roasted garlic. Refrigerate.

Place the belly in a tray and put another tray on top. Grab several cans that you have lying around to press and weigh it down. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. This will allow the belly to become uniform in size and allow you to portion equal pieces.

Meanwhile, let's toast some morita chiles on a dry skillet over medium heat. You know the drill, make sure not to burn them. They are done when you can smell the addicting essential oils of the chile.

Once toasted, soften them in warm water for 15 minutes. Remove the stem and the seeds (unless you want some spice in your life), blend with equal parts of the soaking water to form a paste.
Set aside.

Next, let's work on the celeriac purée. Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a beautiful root vegetable that works great raw or cooked. It is an ugly duckling but once you slice off the peel you shall discover an extremely versatile interior that is crisp and bright. You will notice hints of celery as well as nutty notes.

Cut it's flesh in cubes, pour in stock until just covered and simmer until soft.
Place in a processor of food and blitz. Return to pot and adjust seasoning.

Lastly, blanch the rapini in heavily salted water. Make sure to not overcook, we want some bite to it.
No need to tamper with the rapini much as we have lots of decadent flavours working for us. Toss in some EVOO and salt-n-peppa.

After your belly has been pressed, cut into individual portions. Preheat your oven to it's highest setting. Place your portioned pieces of this flavour heaven on a roasting tray and toss in the oven for about 10 minutes. Keep a keen eye out for the skin to crisp up. This is a reminder of all that you want in life but are too ashamed to admit to yourself.

Remove the sauce you refrigerated.
Skim the fat that has surfaced and place in a pot over medium heat.
Add 1/2 a cup of the morita chile paste.
Reduce until thickened.

Listen to Primus before plating, it shall be very appropriate. Especially if you own the quintessential 'Pork Soda' Album.
Ironically my favorite Primus song is:

Grab yourself a plate and add a spoonful of celeriac purée. Place a perfect square of everything that is right about life (pork belly), pour the morita chile gravy and add the rapini.

You will rub your belly as you eat this belly, trust me.
Heck, you'll even want to rub my belly in gratitude.

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