Braised Pork Belly w/Porcini Mushrooms & Agrodolce Sauce

I love pork. Anyone who knows me has probably heard me talk about my addiction once or twice, so to be working with pork belly got me excited enough to prepare it two different ways. With recipe 1 here, I wanted to do two things. The first was to use one of my favorite flavor profiles, agridulce, sweet & sour, to highlight the versatility that pork provides. The second was to use one of my favorite cooking methods in braising. This method to me is a fantastic way to develop rich flavors using cheaper cuts of meat. It’s rustic & simple.

Agrodolce is a traditional Italian sweet & sour sauce, similar to a gastrique, with additional flavourings added. In this recipe, I wanted to use a similar method with some Spanish notes. Sherry wine, sweet smoked paprika & garlic. The porcini mushrooms provide a nice earthiness to this dish.

If you’re unfamiliar to braising, here are some basic procedures. Brown your protein to caramelize and develop flavors, also known as the Maillard Reaction. Remove proteins from your pot or pan and sweat off your vegetables or mirepoix. Deglaze with a wine or in this case, a combination of wine and vinegar. Add your desired stock and other liquids. Return the proteins to the liquid, cover and cook in the oven. Cooking times will vary depending on the type of protein used, the size of the cut and the temperature. When looking at any recipe with a braising process and times indicated, always remember that those times are basic guidelines and you should always interpret them as such. Cook your proteins as long as they need to become tender.

Braised Pork Belly w/Porcini Mushrooms & Agridulce Sauce
For the braise:
1.06lbs Pork belly, cut into large squares
4 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 tbsp Butter
half White onion, large dice
4 Celery stalks, large dice
.9 oz Dried porcini mushrooms
5 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp Sweet paprika
1/2 cup Sherry wine
1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Pineapple juice
1 tbsp Brown sugar
2 cups Chicken stock
1 bunch Fresh thyme sprigs
4 Bay leaves
2 tbsp Capers, chopped
Directions: (set oven @ 350f)
1. Using medium heat, sear & brown all sides of the pork belly pieces. Remove pieces from the pan
once completely browned and set aside.
2. Some fat will render out from the pork belly, but depending on the piece you get, you might need
the little bit of extra fat to cook the veg. If so, use the bit of extra butter.
3. Add the onions and caramelize. Medium low heat, and take the time to develop the color and
flavor of the onions.
4. Add the celery and sweat until it becomes soft.
5. Add the dried porcini mushrooms, garlic & sweat out for approx. 2 minutes.
6. Add sweet paprika and blend the spice well the veggies.
7. Deglaze pan with Sherry wine, red wine vinegar & pineapple juice.
8. Add the brown sugar, and bring liquid to a boil. S
9. Add the chicken stock, and again, bring liquid to a boil.
10. Return the pork belly pieces into the braising liquid, add thyme sprigs & bay leaves.
11. Cover pan and place in the oven, braise for approx. 2.5 hours, or as long as it takes for pork
belly to become tender.
12. Remove pork belly pieces & porcini mushrooms from the braising liquid, strain out veg.
13. Place braising liquid into a pot, set heat to medium high and bring to the boil.
14. Reduce braising liquid by 1/3, or until it becomes thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
15. Serve pork belly pieces on their own with pieces of the porcini mushrooms & drizzle with sauce
as a tapa dish.

And for the end result!

With recipe 2, which I will only mention quickly here and post within the next couple of days, I will be preparing a Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad with Pork Belly Croutons. For the time being, I hope you enjoy this one.