Friday, April 2, 2010

Pork, Beans and Braised Fennel

pork and beans
I eat a lot of rice with my dinner most nights of the week. I love the stuff but as it turns out, polished white rice loses most of its thiamin content during the production process. It's the same for white flour too, however flour is fortified with thiamin before being turned into bread and pasta, or simply bagged up for sale. Thiamin is essential for a healthy life and deficiencies have been linked to all sorts of nasty illnesses, most commonly in Asian countries where polished white rice is the staple source of carbohydrates.

Of course, there are other foods which can provide us with a bountiful supply of this essential nutrient: nuts, beans, milk, eggs, pork and yeast, to name a few. Always the rebel, I'm celebrating this Easter weekend with a tasty, thiamin-rich dish of roasted pork belly with cannellini bean puree and braised fennel.
For the pork belly, I simply scored the skin all over with a sharp knife, placed it on a tray, rubbed sea salt all over the skin and left it in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Then I trussed it up, rubbed it with olive oil and threw it into the oven on a super-high heat for half an hour to get the crackle going before lowering the temperature and letting it continue to sit in the oven until the internal temperature reached 72ÂșC. I soaked the cannellini beans overnight, cooked in unseasoned chicken stock, strained and blended with a combination of stock, butter and seasoning to taste.

I suppose you could say that the fennel is my take on Italian agrodolce - the caramelised sugar enhances the natural sweetness without being too sweet, while the vinegar keeps it quite light and provides a balanced counterpoint to the rich and fatty pork. The Spanish tradition of eating pork with beans is a lesson worth remembering too. The cannellini bean puree is smooth like velvet in the mouth, and combined with pork, the two connect to recreate an earthy flavour combination that was meant to be.
Braised Fennel

1 fennel bulb
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 Tbsp cane sugar
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 C. shaoxing
1 C. pork trotter stock
Heat a pan over medium-high heat.
Trim fennel (keeping the fronds).
Cut in half, then each half into 5 wedges.
Add oil to hot pan and swirl to coat the bottom.
Place fennel into the pan cut sides down.
Sear for 2 minutes on each side until caramelised.
Add sugar, vinegar, shaoxing and reduce liquid until almost dry.
Add trotter stock and reduce until fennel is cooked through and stock has thickened.
Season to taste.
roast pork belly

1 comment:

  1. I don't eat meat, but just looking at your crackling pork belly has actually got me drooling. Such a simple recipe, I know my bf would love it.


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