This year (or I guess it's really last year) for New Year's Eve (which is also Sconeman's birthday), we decided to try cooking pork belly. I got a beautiful piece from John Boy's Farm, a NY farmer who raises Berkshire pigs up in the Catskills, and is a fellow vendor at the Pound Ridge Farmers Market. Not really knowing where to start, I queried all my professional foodie contacts, including John Boy, his brother Bob the Chef, and Michael Ruhlman, who kindly answered all my emails. Well, after rubbing it, braising it, chilling it and searing it, we had one of the most memorable pork belly dinners ever. And the scallops wrapped in bacon were real good too. —mrslarkin
Day 1: Grind together the black peppercorns, fennel seed, coriander seed and star anise. Mix with cinnamon, salt and sugar. Rub all over the pork belly. Place in a Ziploc bag, seal, and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
Remove belly from bag, rinse off most of the rub and pat dry. Place in a shallow baking dish slightly larger than the belly, fat side up. Add stock to come half-way up the sides of the belly. Cover dish tightly with foil. Place in oven and braise for 3 hours.
Remove pan from oven and let belly cool in braising liquid for about an hour. (Or chill the whole thing overnight.)
Cut belly into desired portions.
Heat pan with bacon drippings. When pan is hot, place belly fat side down and sear until nicely browned and crispy. Turn and quickly sear other side. Remove to serving dishes and keep warm.
Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of the braising liquid and juice from half of an orange. Let thicken slightly. Spoon sauce over belly and serve.
Great with simple sides like creamy mashed potatoes and buttered corn.