Beer-Braised Pork Belly

I modified a recipe from the December 2013 issue of Saveur and finally used up the pork belly that has been hibernating in my freezer since last year.

3 lb. boneless/skinless pork belly

1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes (I used gochugaru because it's what I had)

1/2 cup olive oil (I used a lot less)

16 oz. beer 

3 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup sherry wine vinegar

3 tbsp. maple syrup

2 pickled Calabrian or hot cherry peppers, seeded (I omitted)

2 pears, thinly sliced (I used apples)

2 cups baby arugula

Rub pork with chile flakes, salt and pepper on a baking sheet; chill two hours (I let it sit out at room temp for just over an hour).  Heat oven to 325F.  Heat 1/4 cup oil in oven safe dutch oven over med-hi heat.  Pat pork dry with paper towels; cook until browned, 10-12 minutes.  Add beer, cook until reduced by half, 4-5 minutes.  Add stock, bring to a boil.  Place in oven and bake, covered, until pork is tender 1-1.5 hours.  Let pork cool, then cut into 2" pieces.  Puree 1/2 cup pan drippings, plus vinegar, syrup, peppers, and salt in a blender.  Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a a 12" skillet over med-hi heat.  Cook fruit until golden, 4-6 minutes; transfer to a bowl.  Add remaining oil and pork to skillet and cook until brown and slightly crisp, 5-7 minutes.  Add vinegar mixture; cook until sauce is thick, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to bowl with pears, add arugula and toss to combine.

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This is hearty fare.  We ate it after an 8 mile hike, and even I couldn't eat much.  The recipe would serve 8 easily as an appetizer.  

Ian took these pictures with his new low light lens, hence the gratuitous Pom-diggity shot.

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