Slow Braised Peppered Pork Belly

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Chef Michael Howell, Tempest Restaurant

Chef Michael tells us:
Pork bellies are indeed bacon, whole unsliced pieces usually smoked but not necessarily cured before smoking.  For best results excess fat is actually left on rather than being trimmed off, resulting in what we are familiar with as regular bacon.  We use applewood smoked whole slab bacon from Martock Glen – Mike Oulton Meats in Windsor.  At the grocery store, whole slab (Unsliced) bacon weighing about two pounds (1 kg) will result in enough yield for six to eight people.

1kg/2¼lb piece of belly pork
1 orange peel
10 juniper berries
1 star anise
1“ ginger peeled, sliced
1 onion, cut in half and stud each half with 3 cloves
3 shallots, peeled
2 carrots, cut in half lengthways
2 stalks celery, chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup white wine
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1L/1¾pt chicken stock
bouquet garni (parsley stalks, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns)
3L/5¼pt water

1. Wrap the orange peel, juniper berries, star anise, peppercorns and ginger peel into a piece of muslin cloth and tie with cotton into a bouquet garni.
2. Place the bouquet garni and all remaining ingredients, including pork, into a large stockpot of water and bring to a boil.
3. Immediately reduce to a very gentle simmer and be careful not to boil.
4. Cook gently for 2-3 hours and then allow to cool.
5. Remove the pork belly from its cooking liquid and place on a chopping board.
6. Remove excess fat and slice into required portions.
7. Drain the liquid, straining mirepoix (vegetable chunks) out.  Skim fat off top, and reduce by ¾.

To Serve:
1. Rub pork belly portion with cracked pepper and reheat 5 minutes in hot oven
2. Plate with reduced sauce mounted* with butter and additional pepper if necessary.
* To mount is to add to.

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