Maple Porter Braised Pork Belly
With Bacon Brussels Sprouts and a White Bean Purée Topped with a Smoked Tomato Sauce
When I began thinking about the flavors, textures and elements of these ingredients, the question of “what can I do” kept repeating itself. To play up the nostalgic plate memory of the maple syrup touching the now soggy bacon and overlaying the complexity of coffee, I used maple, pork belly and porter as a base flavor and went from there.
2 ½ lbs. pork belly, preferably Berkshire, skin removed*
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 ea. bay leaves
36 oz. porter style beer
½ cup maple syrup, grade ‘B’
* Pork belly is the same cut of meat as slab bacon, only fresh and not cured. This may be ordered from a local butcher or Asian market.
Take the pork belly and rub evenly with the salt. Place the belly into a Dutch oven and add the bay leaves, porter beer and maple syrup. Seal with a tight fitting lid or use aluminum foil to cover tightly and place into the center of a 225˚ preheated oven. Let the pork braise for 3-4 hours, until tender, but not falling apart. Some of the fat will melt away, leaving a good ratio of meat to fat. Let cool, removing the belly in one piece, then reduce the remaining braising liquid by two-thirds. Ideally, place the cooked pork belly into a baking dish, covering with the reduced liquid that has been cooled; cover with plastic wrap. Then place another baking dish, slightly smaller than the one below and place over the belly and add some cans of food to weigh it down. This will compress the flesh of the meat, creating a uniform thickness and a better texture to the final product. Place the baking dishes into the refrigerator for at least 12-24 hours, allowing the meat to be pressed.
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper, cracked
2 ea. large eggs, at room temperature
2 T. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Mustard
2 cups panko style bread crumbs or plain bread crumbs
Remove the meat from the reduced sauce (reserving for the final sauce). Slice the belly into thick strips, cubes or other shapes. Take three shallow bowls or containers and line them in a row. Fill the first container with flour, salt and pepper. Mix well. Fill the second bowl with the eggs and mustard. Using a fork or whisk, mix together, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until combined. Add the panko or bread crumbs to the final container
2 ea. tomatoes, smoked
left over braising liquid, cooled, fat removed
In a medium size pot, add the smoked tomatoes and reduced braising liquid and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Let simmer for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Keep the sauce warm.
Bacon Brussels Sprouts
6 strips apple wood smoked bacon, thick cut
½ red onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
2 tsp malt vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon (sliced into lardons) and render out the fat, cooking the bacon until it is fully cooked, but not overly crispy. Remove the cooked bacon to a side dish. Add the onions and cook until they just start to caramelize, about 8 minutes. As the onions are cooking, take the Brussels sprouts and shave them into thin strips with a knife, food processor or mandolin. Once the onions are just starting to caramelize, add the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat them evenly in the bacon fat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, letting the leaves wilt slightly. Add the malt vinegar to the pan, letting the liquid boil and lightly steam the Brussels sprouts. Season lightly with salt and pepper, keeping warm.
4 cups white beans (Navy or Great Northern), cooked in a brown ale
6 T. butter, unsalted
2 T. kosher salt (or to taste)
In a 4 quart pot, add the cooked beans, butter and salt. Once the beans are warm, add them to a food processor and add a few tablespoons of porter. Puree until the beans for a smooth paste, adjusting the consistency with more porter or butter until the desired thickness is reached. Keep warm.
To serve: Take a slice of the cooked pork belly and coat evenly in the seasoned flour mixture, knocking off any extra flour. Next coat the meat in the egg wash on all sides, then dip into the bread crumbs to encrust completely. Set onto a large plate and repeat with remaining slices. Take a sauté pan over medium heat and add a few pats of butter along with some olive oil. Add several pieces of the meat and fry to a golden brown color, about 3 minutes a side.
Place a scoop or two of the warmed beans off to the side of the center of the plate. Top with a strip or two of the crispy pork belly, pointed towards to unoccupied part of the plate, then add a line of cooked Brussels sprouts over the belly, and garnish with the warmed smoked tomato sauce. Serve immediately.
To Pair: I would try an American sour style ale, such as Sanctification from Russian River Brewing Co. or La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. These styles will help cut the richness of the fried pork belly, complimenting the Brussels sprouts with the light touch of the malt vinegar.