Note to vegan readers—this post really isn’t going to rock your world. You should probably come back later.
Although it’s been pretty crazy with the move, the holidays, then The Husband’s birthday celebrations, we’ve still managed to do a bit of entertaining in the new house. We’ve managed to make a few new friends up here, and we invited Jonelle over one Sunday after a walk in the park with our doggies.
The day before, I was panicking a little bit, because I wasn’t sure what to make for brunch. I wanted something hearty, something delicious and something paleo that everyone would enjoy. As I wandered the Santa Barbara farmer’s market for the first time, I spotted Jiminez Farms, a local rancher and purveyor of hormone-free, free-range meats.
Pork belly? Oh yeah. I was inspired. I was then further inspired by the fact that you could cook pork belly in the slow cooker. How cool would that be, I thought? It will take so much work out of the morning! Well, that didn’t exactly happen, but it was nice to have it cooked that morning.
A warning though: cooking anything in the slow cooker overnight is a mixed blessing. Yes, you have a delicious meal waiting for you when you wake up, which is fantastic. What’s not so fantastic is waking up STARVING because the smell of pork belly has been driving you crazy in your dreams for the last two hours!
But readers, it was delicious. I made a Japanese yam rösti topped with garlicky sautéed kale, crisped pork belly and fried egg. Oh, and redeye gravy. Life was good, what with the brunch, some spicy Bloody Marys and mimosas, and sitting on the porch afterwards watching the dogs enjoy the yard.
The dish isn’t really difficult, it’s just getting all the elements ready at the same time. And if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can braise the pork belly in the oven for several hours instead.
Slow-Cooker Braised Pork Belly
2 lbs. free-range pork belly
1 cup white wine (any will do)
Several sage leaves, fresh
1 Tbsp. honey
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp. Celtic sea salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
Throw the pork belly in. Cover with the rest of the ingredients. Turn the slow-cooker to its lowest setting for 6-8 hours. Mine has a timer, so it will go off without you doing anything. It was a lovely Christmas gift!
Once the pork belly is cooked, you’ll want to crisp it up before serving. Cut it into 3-inch square pieces (or whatever size you think is best for your guests), and put on a foil-covered baking sheet. As close to serving as possible, get them under a hot grill or broiler to make sure that top level of fat gets nice and crispy.
Serve with whatever floats your boat!
It’s not traditional, but I took the drippings from the slow cooker and added about 1/2 cup of espresso. I pulled about 1/4 cup of the mixture out, blended it with 3 Tbls. of arrowroot and whisked it into the gravy to thicken it as it reduced. Simmer for 30 minutes to one hour until a thick gravy forms.
Japanese Yam Rösti
2 medium Japanese yams1 white onion
2 Tbls coconut flour
Celtic sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Throw the yams and the onion in the food processor using the grater disk. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to go old-school with a box grater. I hope you have some onion goggles, because I was crying even with the food processor.
Mix the flour and the spices into the grated veggies, making sure it’s coated. Heat oil, butter or bacon fat in a frying pan and put in the mixture, spreading out as evenly as possible. Cook on medium low heat until it’s crispy on one side. Flip as carefully as possible—I think the traditional way is to put a plate over the top of the pan, flip it over, and slide it from the plate back into the pan. But my dinner plates weigh 5 pounds each, so that doesn’t work for me. I just massacre it by trying to flip it with a spatula.
Once crispy on both sides, place it in a low oven until ready to serve.
I really don’t have to tell you how to make garlicky sautéed kale, do I? No, I don’t. Now get in the kitchen and make some damn pork belly. You’re welcome.