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The Three Little Pigs: Braised Pork Belly with Poached Apple Fritters, Chili Onion Jam, and Lemon Pickled Fennel

February 11th, 2012

…But try as they might, the three little pigs were no match for the big bad wolf (that’s me!), for she came and gobbled them all up!…

A Trio of Braised Pork Belly

Braised pork belly is a marvelous thing. Done right, it can be simultaneously tender, creamy and crispy – and it’s deceptively simple to make, though there are a few steps to it. I wanted to experiment with different flavour and texture combinations: the first, pork belly with something sweet, crispy, tender and creamy; the second with something sticky, bold and spicy; the third with something crunchy and sour.

Once upon a time there were three little pork bellies who, after having been cured and braised, left their “mother” and set out into the world to seek their fortunes. After passing through the frying pan, they came upon a table full of items with which to protect themselves from the elements – and of course, that big, bad wolf their mother had always warned them about.

The first little pork belly made his house of a poached apple fritter and fennel frond, on a foundation of Pernod cream.

Braised Pork Belly with Poached Apple Fritter and Pernod Cream

The second little pork belly fashioned his abode from chili onion jam, with a charming little pathway of Szechuan pepper salt.

Braised Pork Belly with Chili Onion Jam and Szechuan Pepper Salt

The third little pork belly, a burgeoning architect with a flair for the dramatic, constructed his house of pickled fennel, red onion and lemon peel, and a sprinkle of mustard seeds.

Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Fennel, Red Onion and Lemon Zest


Braised Pork Belly

3 lb pork belly

1/4 c salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp cumin seed
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
1 star anise
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon

In a spice grinder, grind salt, sugar, and whole spices together. Stir in ground coriander and cinnamon.
Remove the bottom section of pork belly that has bones embedded and set aside to make pork stock. (Note: if your pork belly did not come with the bony section, don’t despair! Just use plain chicken stock as the braising liquid.)
Rub pork belly with spice mix and cure, refrigerated, for 3 days.

1 bay leaf
1/2 head garlic
1/2 onion
1 rib celery
6 black peppercorns
water or chicken stock

Put above ingredients and the section of pork belly that was removed in a pot and cover with water or chicken stock. Simmer for 4 hours, then allow to cool fully. Remove solids for other uses.
Preheat oven to 200F.
Rinse the pork belly, then place in a pan that fits it as closely as possible. Cover fully with pork stock, then seal the pan with foil and allow to braise in the oven for 8 hours, or overnight.
Strain and reserve the liquid (don’t discard it! It will have a lot of wonderful flavour – I suggest using it in a Zucchini Pear Soup).
Just before serving, cut serving-size pieces and sear the cut edges and skin in a pan.

Poached Apple Fritters
Chili Onion Jam
Lemony Pickled Fennel

Braised Pork Belly with Poached Apple Fritters, Chili Onion Jam, and Lemony Quick Pickled Fennel

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8 Responses

  1. Woo says:

    Your food styling is gorgeous. My favorite shot is the close up of the 2nd little pig. The head on shot of belly on a line of salt on the glass plate creates the illusion that the belly is balanced magically on a tightrope of salt. Awesome!

  2. heironymuse says:

    Thanks Woo! I deliberated on that glass plate forever, now so glad I bought it. It worked wonderfully! The second pig turned out to be my favourite – all the flavours are nice and bold, nothing is lost on the palate.

  3. Deena says:

    WOW that looks fantastic!! 🙂

  4. Annie says:

    Wow! I need to try:)

  5. s. says:

    Stunning photography and well written. I’m adding you to my blog roll!

  6. heironymuse says:

    Thanks S! I love your blog, and will do the same. Hope you win in the Phoenix!

  7. Carole says:

    Beautiful The subject of this week’s Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is Pork. It would be great if you linked this in. This is the link .

  8. Carole says:

    thanks for linking this in. Cheers

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