Blog-checking lines: The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
When I first read about braising, it sounded a lot like boiling food. But it really isn't just that. In fact for the recipe that I made, I only used 1 cup of liquid to cook 3.5 pounds of meat. The key to braising is to slowly cook the food and to use acids (orange juice in this case) to break down the connective tissues, making the meat very tender.
Carol provided us with several recipe options, and I chose to make "Pork Belly with Caramel Miso Sauce". Either be daring or get out of the kitchen!
I was pleased to find out that our local grocery store sold pork belly. But when I got there, they had it all sliced up like bacon, which is what pork belly really is, just not smoked or cured. Luckily the butcher had more in the back and was able to cut me a chunk.
I dry roasted some coriander seeds and peppercorns to add to the braising liquid.
Along with the spices I added onion, garlic, bay leaves and 1 cup of orange juice. I then covered the pot with tin foil and put it in a 250 oven and let it cook for six hours. The smell by hour 4 was divine!
Pork belly has a thick layer of fat on the top, much of which cooked down during the braising process. The meat was so tender when it finished cooking, that you could not have taken it out of the pot without it falling apart. The good thing is that the next step was to refrigerate it for up to 5 days, which allowed the fat to congeal. This meant that I could easily scrape off the extra fat as well as take the meat out and cut it into cubes without it disintegrating.
I finished it off with a caramel-miso sauce glaze that is to die for. We will be trying this sauce out on many other meats. I served the finished product with garlic mashed potatoes and mixed sautéed greens.
Overall, another successful challenge from The Daring Kitchen.