Friday, June 13, 2014

Braised Pork Belly Tacos

Oh my goodness, gracious. This is one of my favorite foods I've ever made. Matt says the best ever. My dad tried it and said "meh". I guess it's just a matter of taste. But if you are the pork belly type, you will most definitely like this recipe. 

I've tried pork belly a few different ways and this is my fave recipe. I get pork belly from a Mexican market, this time with ribs still attached but that doesn't really matter. Next time, I'll actually remember to have the butcher remove the skin for me because it is a very laborious task.

The Recipe (from Have Knives Will Cook)

For the pork:
  • 2½ lbs. boneless skinless pork belly, cut into large chunks approx. 4 oz. each
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground annatto and coriander
  • crushed red pepper (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  • vegetable oil
For the garnishes:
  • queso fresco, crumbled
  • sour cream or Mexican crema
  • fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • tomatillo salsa (see below)
  • pickled onion (see below)
  • lime wedges
  • 2 dozen soft corn or flour tortillas

The Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Lightly score the pork belly on the fat side by making a few 1/8″ deep cuts.  Generously season the pork belly with salt and pepper.  Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or flame-proof roasting dish over medium high heat until it shimmers.  Lightly sear the pieces of pork belly on each side.
  3.  Drain the excess fat from the pan and position the pieces of belly with the fat side down.  Add the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, annatto/coriander, and a pinch of crushed red pepper so that the liquid comes halfway up the pieces of meat. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork.
  4. While the pork is cooking, prepare the garnishes.
  5. When the pork is cooked, let it rest covered in the cooking liquid for 5-10 minutes before pulling apart.  Once it has rested, shred the meat with a pair of forks, or your fingers and mix it with just enough of the braising liquid to coat each morsel.  Add salt to taste.
  6. Pile up in tortilla with all the yummy garnishes and eat your heart out. Yum!

I made some tomatillo salsa and picked red onions to go with it all. Yes, they are delicious and essential. For the onions, I just thinly slice them then add enough vinegar (red wine or apple cider) to cover the onions plus a little sugar or honey. Mix it up, pour into a jar and let it all soak in a few hours. Tomatillo salsa recipe below...

Tomatillo Salsa (also from Have Knives Will Cook)

The Recipe
  • 1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husks removed (approx. 4)
  • 1-2 fresh jalepeno peppers (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt to taste

The Method
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the tomatillos and jalepenos and cook until the tomatillos turn yellow.  Remove both the tomatillos and the jalepenos and cool them in ice water. Drain.
  2. Remove the stems from the tomatillos and jalepenos.  Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is a rough puree.
  3. For a more chunky salsa, blanch only the tomatillos, cool them in ice water, drain, then dice.  Stem and de-seed the jalepenos and finely dice them.  Combine the diced tomatillos and jalepenos with the remaining ingredients.

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