It's been a while since I posted in here and honestly there's been a dearth of cooking and inspiration in my life lately. But yesterday I set foot in a Whole Foods and went a little wild. The recipe was requested! So here goes...
Braising technique was adapted from Tom Colicchio's Think Like a Chef and the flavors were my own choosing.
1 Tablespoon oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 carrots cut in large chunks, about 1 in. thick on an extreme bias
6 whole garlic cloves
1 inch slice fresh ginger, peeled
1 to 2 lbs fresh pork belly (skinless)
1 beer of the lager/Pilsner type (I used the hoppier Eggenberg Hopfen König, an Austrian beer)
3-4 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
2 lbs Yukon potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups additional chicken stock
1 stick butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat oil in a shallow oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Season pork belly with salt and pepper. When pan is hot, add pork belly fat side down and let render/brown for 15 minutes. Remove pork belly and set aside. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and ginger to the pan. Season with salt and sauté until beginning to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add the beer to the vegetables to deglaze the pan. Let simmer until reduced and syrupy. Return the pork belly to the pan, browned side up. Add enough chicken stock to surround the pork but not cover. You want the entire browned part exposed. Add the soy sauce, gochujang, and honey and bring to a simmer. Transfer pan (carefully!) to the oven and braise uncovered for 1 hour. Add a little more chicken stock to bring the liquid back up to its initial level and bake for 1 more hour. Remove pan from oven and let pork cool in juices. Taste the braising liquid. If it needs more sweetness add the 2 tsp sugar. Here I put it in the fridge and quit for the night.
Preheat oven to 375°. Skim off and discard the fat. Cut the pork into serving pieces and set aside. Strain the solids from the liquid and set aside. Discard the ginger. Return the liquid to the pan and reduce by half. Return the vegetables and the pork (still brown side up) to the pan and return to oven to heat through, about 5-10 minutes.
For the potatoes: combine potatoes stock, and 1/2 tsp salt in a pot and bring to a boil, covered, for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile in a small skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter and add leeks. Season with salt and sauté on low until leeks start to melt. Shut off heat. When potatoes are tender, drain and mash. Add remaining butter, milk, leek mixture, and salt and pepper to taste.