Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day pork belly

Pork belly is good anytime, not just for Valentine's Day. But it made a lovely V-Day dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, fresh snap peas and roasted carrots. And chocolate mousse. And a good bottle of wine, of course.

Pork belly is essentially uncured bacon, and is one of the easiest and most fool-proof things you can put in your oven. First, procure a piece of pork belly (you may have to go to an actual butcher, as opposed to the meat counter at the supermarket). It should have the skin still attached on one side. Cut into the skin, into the layer of fat beneath, but not all the way into the meat. Do this a few times across the top of the slab, then rub salt into the cuts. Put this skin-side-up into a roasting dish and roast at 425 for 30 minutes. The skin will be bubbly and crackly and the meat will have puffed up a little. Turn it down to 350 and roast for another hour. Take the pan out of the oven, take the meat out, and throw a couple of sliced carrots, ribs of celery, and quartered onions into the bottom of the pan. You can also add some thyme, Stir this all around into the fat at the bottom of the pan. Put the pork on top of the vegetables, and be sure to baste it with some of the fat. Roast for another hour.

There, done. You can serve the veggies with the pork, or not. You can also turn all that lovely drippy fat at the bottom into a nice gravy, or not. (How much juice you get will depend on how big the piece of pork belly is--mine was just big enough for two people, so I just got enough fat and meat juice to cook the veggies, not enough for additional gravy.) Serve by slicing into 1-inch sections, being sure everybody gets some of the nice crackly skin. How better to show your love than with pork?

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