The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
Ohhh how I loved this challenge! I must admit I have loved every single challenge so far, as I have learnt so much. This time though, besides practising my braising skills, I also discovered 2 items that will become part of my culinary repertoire for the future: pork belly and the caramel miso glaze! I had never cooked pork belly before, so when I saw that it was one of the possible recipes for the challenge, I immediately decided I had to make it. And I am so glad I did. It is such a flavourful cut of meat… and after cooking it, it was so soft, it would melt in your mouth. The glaze was another amazing discovery. We all loved it (my kids included) and could not get enough of it. It is sweet, tangy, salty, caramelised, sticky. In other words: FANTASTIC. I will make it again and try it with ribs and chicken wings. I know it will be great! I served my final dish with 4 different flavours of mash potatoes: chilly, pepper, green onions and garlic (all ingredients present in the pork belly). I made only half dose of the below recipe, and we all wished I had made the full dose! Ahhh… I will have to make it again! Thank you so much Carol for such a fantastic challenge!!! Enjoy!
For the Braised Pork
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (5 gm) coriander seeds
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (5 gm) black peppercorns
3 pounds (1-1/3 kg) pork belly (with rind)
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of the knife
1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) scallions (green/spring onions),, chopped
Red Pepper – Flaked
For the Easy Carmel-Butter Sauce
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) butter
¼ cup (60 ml) water
For the Caramel-Miso Glaze
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (¼ oz/7 gm) minced shallot (eschalot)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) pork braising liquid
¼ cup (60 ml) easy caramel sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) shiro miso
2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
I also added 1 tbsp of sugar to contrast the saltiness of the sauce
To make the Braised Pork
Roast the coriander seeds and peppercorn in a dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant (this will take approximately 2 minutes). Then crush them with a mortar and pestle.
Preheat the oven to 250°F/125°C/gas mark ½.
Season the pork well with salt and place it rind side up in a baking dish. NOTE: make sure you put it in a dish that is approximately the same size as the pork belly. A snug fit between the pork belly and the dish is better, as it will ensure that the pork belly retains its shape after being braised. I did not have a small enough baking dish and the pork belly came out a little crooked at the end. Lesson learnt!
Scatter the bay leaves, onion, spring onion, chilly and garlic over the pork. Add the orange juice and cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil. I also covered the pork belly tight with the aluminium foil before covering the baking dish.
Place it in the oven for 6 hours or until the pork is very tender.
When ready, allow it to cool in its juices, then cover it and refrigerate it at least over night and up to 5 days.
Remove the pork from the dish, scrape off the seasonings (filter and keep the juices aside) and cut it into 12 equal cubes – at this point, it is a basic braised pork that you may use for a stir fry or sauté until crispy and serve with a salad. I finished mine with Ruhlman’s suggested Caramel-Miso Sauce.
To make the Easy Carmel Sauce
Put the sugar in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat (1). Do not stir. When the edges turn brown (2), swirl to distribute it.
When the sugar is dark amber, add the butter (3) and ¼ cup (60 ml) of water (4). Stir until the bubbles subside (it bubbles quickly) and simmer for a minute (5).
Remove from the heat and pour into a heat proof container (6).
To make the Carmel-Miso Sauce
In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté till translucent.
Season with a sprinkle of salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Add the pork braising liquid, caramel sauce, miso, red wine vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce. I also added 1 tablespoon of sugar to contrast the saltiness of the sauce. In fact, the next time I make it I will reduce the amount of salt that I used.
Bring to a simmer, cook for ½ a minute or so and remove from the heat.
To finish off the dish
Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with canola oil and place it over medium high heat. Sear the pork belly pieces on all the sides.
Add the glaze and coat the pork.
Put it on a plate and decorate it with green onions. I served mine with 4 different flavoured mash potatoes (garlic, green onion, chilly and pepper).
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
The braised pork may be made up to 5 days in advance. It may be frozen as well. The caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator
In the last year I have also shared with you a few other recipes that fall into the category of “braise”… here they are:
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