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Braised Pork Belly with Creamy Grits

Category: Main Dish / Pork     Makes: 6 servings pork and 3 cups creamy grits

Serve pork belly portions over a small mound of grits and drizzle with honey. If desired, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons hot strained braising liquid and garnish with snipped thyme.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ to 3 pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • ¼ cup clarified butter, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 bottle pinot noir, or other red wine
  • 4 cups veal stock, or vegetable stock (32-ounces)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ ounce fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 teaspoons honey, light flavored (such as alfalfa)

Creamy Grits:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white grits, or yellow grits or polenta (not instant)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Using a very sharp knife, carefully split pork belly crosswise in half. Season both sides of both pieces with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter in a large heavy skillet or 6-quart braiser pan. Add one pork belly piece, fat side down. Cook until fat is nicely brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn pork belly piece over and brown the other side. Transfer pork belly to a plate; discard fat in skillet or pan. Repeat browning with remaining 2 tablespoons clarified butter and pork belly piece. Discard fat from skillet or pan.
  • With skillet or braiser pan away from heat, add ⅓ cup wine. Return skillet or pan to heat and cook over low heat, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan; remove from heat. If using braiser pan, return pork belly pieces to pan. If using skillet, pour liquid from skillet into a 6-quart Dutch oven and add pork. To the pork, add remaining wine, stock, onion, celery, carrot and thyme. Bring to boil and cover tightly.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 3½ to 4 hours. Remove and let pork belly cool completely. Reserve braising liquid.
  • Portion pork belly into 3-ounce to 4-ounce rectangle pieces. Place belly pieces in a large skillet or braising pan with enough of the braising liquid to cover.
  • Reheat on stove top over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155°F.

Creamy Grits: Bring heavy cream and water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Slowly stir in grits. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until fully cooked. Stir in salt and pepper.

Quick Tips: For a cook who does not want to make their own clarified butter, use grapeseed oil because it too has a high smoke point and bland in flavor.