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Author Notes: I've never been to the UK so I did a bit of research to figure out what is quintessential pub food. My eye was caught by a very simple bacon sandwich - white bread - something called HP sauce. I decide to riff on this by making a pork belly sandwich. This is certainly something of an indulgence - pork belly gets its succulence through layers of luxurious fat . . . but I balanced it with a crisp slaw and some tangy blue cheese. The cooking liquid from the pork belly becomes a rich stock you pour over the meat and saturate the rolls (use a sturdy roll like cibatta so it doesn't fall apart when saturated with the delicious broth). I can imagine this would be a nice treat late night at a dark pub. The pork belly approach was taken from David Chang's amazing pork belly buns. —meganvt01
- 3 pounds boneless skinless pork belly - cut into four pieces
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups apple juice
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon corriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet until they become aromatic - about 5 minutes on medium.
- Mix the salt, sugar, juice, water and stir until dissolved. Add spices and thyme. Pour over pork belly pieces in a baking dish (keep it tight so the pieces are submerged) and brine for 12 hours. (Pork should be fat side up)
- Remove the belly from the brine - keep in the baking dish and pour in the chicken stock. Cover tightly with foil and roast in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the foil and turn on the broiler (keeping the pan in the same mid-rack position rather than moving it up towards the broiler) and broil until the fat top is really browned and crispy. Let cool in the liquid.
- Slice the pork into 1/4 inch slices. If you want a really crispy sandwich - add this step - heat up a cast iron skillet over medium high - lay the slices of pork belly for 1 -2 minutes until the side is crisp.
Slaw and Sandwich Assembly
- 2 smaller bulbs fennel
- 2 apples (not super tart) I used Fuji
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (fresh)
- 1/2 cup crumbled stilton
- 6 sturdy rolls - I used cibatta
- Using a mandoline - thinly slice the apple and fennel bulbs. Toss with shallots and thyme.
- Mix the dijon, cider vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over apple fennel mixture.
- Assemble the sandwich - place 4 or 5 slices of crispy pork on the bottom roll. Pour over 1 - 2 tablespoons of the cooking broth. Pile on the apple fennel slaw (about 1/2 cup) and sprinkle on your desired amount of crumbled stilton.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pub Food
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