[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Twice-Cooked Pork Belly Stir-Fry
19 January 2012

The most casual reader of this site is surely aware that among the ingredients I treasure few stand higher in my esteem than pork belly. On the vegetable side, brussels sprouts occupy a similarly exalted place. And while I have not tired of simple roasted pork belly and roasted brussels sprouts, I am always looking for other ways to prepare them both.

Stir-frying is not a method I use a lot. I own a wok but it sees the most use as a stove-top smoker. Braising, on the other hand, is a favorite technique, possibly because I am often working with the types of cuts that are amenable to long, slow, moist cooking. When thinking about what to do with the sprouts, the idea of sautéing came to mind, and from there it was a simple leap to stir-fry. Stir-frying the pork belly from a raw state didn't seem quite right, and I fell back to a braise.

Alas, the poor wok remained on the shelf! I opted for my trusty cast-iron skillet. Some habits die harder than others.

Twice-Cooked Pork Belly Stir-Fry

[Braised Pork Belly] Mix the molasses, soy sauce, vinegar, chile and garlic together for the braising liquid. Find a cooking vessel with a fairly tight fitting lid in which your pork belly is a fairly tight fit. I cut my belly in half, which is probably not a bad idea, especially if you are going to use only half for this dish. Put the belly in the dish, cover with the braising liquid and put into a 275F oven for ninety minutes.

When it is done cooking, remove from the oven, remove from the liquid and set aside to cool. Save the liquid! It will be sauce soon enough ...

Slice the sprouts and onion. A food processor is handy here, especially for the sprouts. Take one half of the pork belly and slice it fairly thinly as well. A food processor is probably not a good idea for the pork. Save the other half of the pork for another time. Or, of course, don't. Although if you're going to use all the pork, I'd recommend doubling the amount of vegetables and you might want to make up some more of the sauce.

Now, I make no claims to being an expert on stir-fry, but the theory, as I understand it, is: high heat, little oil and much motion; the first two being the "fry" while the last is the "stir." For oil, you can use almost anything you like, but something more nuetral than olive might be best. Simple vegetable oil, canola or the like, should be fine. Peanut oil would be great.

Heat your pan on a high flame. When you are ready to begin, put just a teaspoon or two of oil in the skillet and start with the onions in smallish batches. Stir them for a minute or two, then move them all into a corner of the skillet. You may not need to add any more oil, but you might need a smidge - keep an eye on it. Add the sprouts, again in small batches, stirring as you go. When they start to get a little color, push them over with the onions and add some more. When they've all been added and received their initial color, start with the pork belly using the same basic procedure. For the pork, the idea really is just to get a touch of sear on it, since it's already cooked. Even that touch of browning is optional.

The tricky bit throughout the whole process is to keep the various bits which are to one side moving at least a little so they don't burn. When the pork goes in, you might want to turn the heat down just a bit to make it a little easier.

When the belly is all in and browned (or not) to your satisfaction, stir everything together. Pour in your reserved braising liquid and let simmer for a few minutes until everything is warm and happy, and the sauce has thickened up a bit.

[Just before adding sauce] Rice would be traditional (if this dish were traditional) but we devoured it on its own.

© 2012 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite