Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crispy Pork Belly Sandwiches with Meyer Lemon Relish

I love pork belly and believe it or not, I have a hard time finding it here in Chicago. I have to go to the markets in Chinatown or off Argyle Street to find it… that was until yesterday.

When I was at Chicago French Market, my ever-so-knowledgeable guy at Fumare Meats sent me on a field trip about 10 blocks west to Peoria Packing to buy pork belly.

I wanted to try this recipe from Matthew Dillon, owner of Sitka and Spruce in the new Melrose Market in Seattle where I am headed next month.

Photo: Peoria Packing

Peoria Packing – at 1300 West Lake Street- is truly a carnivore's dream. Popular with barbecue addicts, restaurateurs, and south-siders, Peoria Packing also has in-house custom butchering.

I walked into a refrigerator - a room that was literally freezing and stacked high with meat. If you want cows feet, pork skin, lamb intestines, pork cheeks or oxtails or anything else for that matter, you can get it here.

It was crazy busy – this was Saturday afternoon. If you want to buy in bulk or if you are entertaining this is your first and only stop. I hauled home 8 pounds of pork belly for a mere $1.98 a pound.

On the way home and just to get in the mood, I stopped by the Saigon Sister’s new restaurant at 567 West Lake to enjoy some Bahn Boa with hoisin glazed pork belly.

Lunch has me already planning my dinner here where Matthew Eversman, Chicago’s Breakout Chef of the Year, makes roasted pork belly with a 5:10 egg, sambal brussels sprouts and broken rice (broken rice cooks "stickier" - which may be another reason it is preferred) that I have heard is simply to die for.

When I am in Seattle next month, I’ll stop by Sitka and Spruce to let Matthew Dillon know that his recipe was definitely worth all the effort. I loved this recipe but modified it just a little by only letting the meat sit in the rub for about 4 hours since I was on a two day schedule and this was a three day recipe.

Bon Appetit!

1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
2 quarts boiling water
2 quarts ice water
4 pounds boneless, skinless, meaty fresh pork belly, fat trimmed to 3/4 inch and scored
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole clove
1 allspice berry
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
Whole-grain mustard and chopped frisée, for serving
8 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

In a large pot, combine the salt, sugar, bay leaves and boiling water; stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the ice water and let cool. Add the pork belly and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the pork belly and pat dry with paper towels. In a small skillet, combine the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cumin, clove and allspice and toast over moderate heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes; transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely. Coarsely grind the spices and rub them all over the pork belly. Transfer to a platter, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Rinse the pork, scraping off most of the spices, and pat dry. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet until hot. Add the pork, fatty side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 minutes. Scatter the garlic, onion, celery and carrots on either side of the pork belly and cook until softened slightly, 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Transfer the pork to a platter and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice in half so it will fit on the ciabatta.

In a large nonstick skillet, fry the pork slices in batches over moderately high heat, turning once, until crisp, about 4 minutes.

Spread mustard on the roll bottoms and top with the sliced pork belly, frisée and a generous dollop of Meyer Lemon Relish.

Close the sandwiches, cut in half and serve.

Meyer Lemon Relish

1 large Meyer lemon—peeled, peel very thinly sliced
1 shallot—1/2 minced, 1/2 very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the lemon pulp, discarding any seeds, and transfer to a bowl. Add the lemon peel, minced and sliced shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, chives, parsley, olive oil and crushed red pepper to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Make Ahead The relish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.