Interesting. Of course, pork belly is nothing new, but it has been getting a lot of play over the past year or so. If you've ever enjoyed it then you understand why. This is one of things that lets you use the word unctuous in a positive way. Yum.
Last week I ventured down to the North Buda Bungalow to feast with Shaddley & Co. I already had this nice piece of Niman Ranch pork belly so we were going to go about the evening in the usual fashion of multi-course Dionysian decadence. After a brief stop at a centrally-located market, it was off to the newly revamped kitchen of Shaddley and YogaMarketingBrownieGirl.
I was really excited about the pork belly and even the late start time couldn't deter me from braising it in the loving way it deserved. Yes, we had a late start, around eight or so, which made for an extended evening of dining and drinking.
There was much prep to do for all the other dishes, so I got the belly in the oven as quickly as possible, reserving a small amount for use in other dishes. The belly was the fourth course of this small plates feast. I had time to drink some wine and go about my business preparing the rest of the meal as the pork belly sat in the oven discovering itself.
There was a gap of time between the third course of lamb and tiny dutch potatoes, and the belly. A gap that was long enough, apparently, for one of the guests to suggest that they watch The Dark Knight. I think this time out of the eating and drinking pocket was the demise of two of our feast mates. Shaddley came back from the realms of dreamy floor land just in time to eat this dish. Of course, being that some of the inspiration for this plate was a play on bacon and eggs, it's almost appropriate to eat it after waking up. Then again it was one thirty a.m. and not noon.
The braised belly was lightly fried, then coated in a sweet and sour Shochu glaze and served with rutabaga puree, egg white, an egg and apple emulsion and parsley puree. The pork was fun to eat, sticky and sweet with grounding, earthy flavors of pork, star anise and cinnamon. Like the best bacon you could eat. There was something reminiscent of sweet and sour pork as well, which is often made from this cut. The sticky Shochu glaze paired well with the pork belly's unctuous nature.
Unfortunately, only YogaMarketingBrownieGirl and I were able to feast on the desert of bacon toffee and panna cotta. I crisped some of the reserved belly for use in the toffee, which came out nicely, redeeming my last overdone batch. Shaddley was forced to enjoy the dessert after coffee the following morning.