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Sous Vide: Sous-B-Q Pork Belly

The growing interest in ketogenic diets has rehabilitated the image of un-cured bacon as a menu item . Good news for pork lovers!

Ingredients

Pork belly, raw, 1 lb/450 g.

Nori/Dashi Sous-B-Q Rub or your preferred brand/home made version.

Brussels sprouts, 6 oz/175 g–about 6 each.
Beets, two each, approximately 12 oz/350 g.
Avocados, 1 each.
Tomatoes, 1 each.
Lemon juice, as needed.
Extra virgin olive oil, 2 oz/60 ml.
Parsley, fresh, chopped, as needed.

Kosher salt, as needed.
Ground black pepper, as needed.

Molasses, 0.5 cups/120 ml.
White vinegar, 0.5 cups/120 ml.

Equipment requirements:
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Lipavi C10 or other heat rated container, approximately 2.5 gallons/10 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Channel or chamber vacuum device
Infrared thermometer.
Mandolin slicer (optional).
“Back yard” hot smoker/bbq or conventional indoor oven.

Lipavi L10 stainless steel rack for use in the smoker/oven–optional but highly recommended. Lipavi racks are are water proof, chlorine proof, dishwasher proof, and oven/smoker proof.

Squirt bottles, as needed.

 

Serves 6
Level of difficulty 3

Procedure:

Sous vide processing–beets

Preheat the sous vide bath to
183 F/84 C 

Vacuum seal the beets and stage into the pre-heated sous vide bath.

Set a timer for 2 hours. When the time has elapsed remove the packaged beets from the bath and shock in iced water until they achieve 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate to 40 F/4 C until time of service.

Sous vide processing–pork belly

Lower the temperature of the bath to
135 F/57 C 

Vacuum seal the pork belly and stage into the pre-heated sous vide bath. Set a timer for 24 hours. 

Recommended method of shocking

Once the time has elapsed, the packages can be removed from the bath and submerged in iced water to chill. As a convenient alternative, we recommend using a siphon to remove the water from the vessel. After turning off the immersion circulator, refill the vessel with iced water–most immersion circulators will continue to measure the temperature. If the water’s temperature exceeds 70 F/21 C after fifteen minutes, repeat the cooling process. When the packages have settled at this temperature, siphon out the cold water. Remove the Lipavi rack with the pork belly packages and refrigerate at 40 F/4 C. This method saves space and allows for cold air to circulate around the packages. In the chilled state, they can be safely refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Smoking/roasting

For best results, smoker/oven temperatures should range between
180 F/82 C and 225 F/107 C.

Use the method explained HERE to coat the refrigerated pork belly with the prescribed rub or your own preferred version. Load into a Lipavi steel rack and stage into the pre-heated smoker (or oven) for four hours or until the internal temperature reaches between 140 F/60 C and 165 F/74 C–whichever achieves your preferred level of crispness. The flavor of smoke will be effectively imparted and the surface of the pork will be fully caramelized/Maillardized.

While you wait for the pork belly in the smoker, remove the beets from the bags and rinse in cold water. Pat dry and remove the skin–sous vide processing makes this step easy. Use a paper or cloth towel to rub the surface of the beet and the skin will come off. Rinse again and keep dry. Beets are very “inky” and stain everything they touch–even dry/wet towels. Wash your hands well before touching the other ingredients in the recipe.

Cut the beets into 1″ squares as pictured (or other desired shapes). Stage the cut beets into a bowl and cover with cold water until service.

Molasses vinegar

In a small sauce pan, combine the 0.5 cups/120 ml molasses with the 0.5 cups/120 ml white vinegar. Bring to a a steady simmer and reduce by half to 0.5 cups/120 ml. Allow to cool and stage into a squirt bottle or other appropriate container for drizzling.

Leave the root end of the Brussels sprouts intact! Holding the root end, slice thinly on the mandolin–watch your fingers and don’t try to slice it all the way to the root end. This can also be done with a sharp knife–just slice as thin as possible. Stage the sliced sprouts into a bowl, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Do not add lemon juice or vinegar at this point or the sprouts will darken.

Cut the tomato and avocado into small dice–sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice to retard darkening if desired.

Finishing

Slice the pork belly thick enough so that it stands up on the plate–you may have to “square” the bottom side in order to do this–trimmings become snacks for the cook!

Put a large pinch of the shaved Brussels sprouts on one side and drizzle with a few drops of lemon juice if desired. Drain the beets well and pat dry. Arrange the beets in front of the pork belly, sprinkle the avocados and tomatoes around and inside the border of the plate. Drizzle with the molasses vinegar and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Norm King

Pork belly is very versatile and is amenable to many different flavor combinations and profiles–in the picture below, it is served with arugula salad with shaved broccoli stem, golden tomatoes, grilled scallions and a braised cherry.

 

About

It was not so long ago that people who ate bacon at breakfast every day cringed at the idea of eating something called "pork belly," regardless of how it was prepared. The two proteins are anatomically identical. When properly cured and smoked, bacon's fat content is not measurably less than sous vide processed pork belly. Fat is removed/rendered during the finishing/frying process at the discretion of the cook.

Fortunately, other forces and trends have caused uncured pork belly to appear in butchers' cases, at least intermittently. This gives us an opportunity to explore its amazing versatility, equally compatible with a variety of complimentary flavors--even sweet ones!

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