Braised Pork Belly with 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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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.