By Paul Suplee,
MBA, CEC, PC-3
A week of storms; this hasn’t happened in quite a while.
Of course, the June bugs and those down here on holiday are less than pleased, I am sure.
But we can’t control the weather or at least not to the level that we would tend to believe.
I remember a spring/summer many years ago when I was the chef at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club (sorry, my nervous twitch just came back.
Please, give me a moment. I need to take a few deep breaths). Anyways, the Assistant Manager Joe and I found ourselves with different days off during the week.
What made that season so memorable was that there was an eight- or nine-week stretch where neither one of us had a sunny day off. I learned then and there why the English get so cranky.
I still can’t do the spot of tea thing, but that year I came close to becoming a fan of drinking murky bath water, if for no other reason than to warm myself.
I remember an article in the paper at the time that discussed the reason that Ocean Pines was not issuing citations to anyone for tall grass that year. Everyone had tall grass, and I mean every resident.
It was so constantly wet that no one could get the blasted stuff trimmed to a reasonable length.
And then, as though it never even happened, we went into a drought and could not water our lawns unless we had newly laid sod.
I remember that vividly because we had just laid down our fresh patch of green with money that we certainly did not have. Oh, those were trying times, to be sure.
And here we are faced with six to seven days of significant rain. I don’t mind, as I know my palms and hibiscus need their water.
The grass will do well and the Rose of Sharon will start yielding her ubiquitous white flowers that will soon be adorned with pollen-laden bees.
There are few things in nature that are as wonderful to witness as that. It’s the smaller things, I guess.
As the weather is looking a touch bleak, I guess it is time to pull out the le Creuset and make some pot roast, chicken soup or one of my favorites, braised pork belly.
Every one of these dishes takes me back to a simpler time when our parents would take the “lesser cuts” of meat and turn them into something magnificent.
As much as I adore a good ribeye or filet mignon, sometimes braised roasts and chunks fit the bill.
Certainly a meal for rainy stints or chilly months, break this one out soon if you can.
This is the week for binge-watching your favorite show and taking a deep breath. The grass will have to wait until next week to get cut.
Braised Pork Belly
makes about 6 portions
2# Fresh pork belly
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 stalks celery, rough chop
1 medium onion, rough chop
1 medium carrot, rough chop
2 ea. Bay leaves
1 Tsp. Black peppercorns
1 c. Red wine
Stems from half a bunch of parsley
Veal or pork stock, as needed (see instructions below)
- Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the pork belly in a criss-cross pattern. The cut should be about 1/4-inch deep.
- Season well with the salt and pepper, and if you want to use some granulated garlic, I’m fairly certain that no one will hold it against you.
- Heat some oil in a heavy duty dutch oven until just below smoking.
- Sear the garbage out of the skin side of the belly, only turning after you have a suitable color.
- Remove and set aside, ensuring that you reserve any juices that run from the meat.
- To your oil, add the celery, onion, carrot, bay leaves and peppercorns and cook until they have some nice, rich color.
- Deglaze the pan with your red wine and add the parsley.
- Add the belly back to the pan and then top with stock until it goes one-half to two-thirds up the side of the belly.
- Cover and place in a 275F oven for a couple to few hours, or until it is very tender.
- Pull from the oven and strain your broth. You can reduce this and skim any remaining fat, leaving you with a rich and unctuous broth.
- Cool the belly if not serving immediately.
- When ready for service, simply cut into uniform pieces and sear skin side down until crispy.
Then, simply heat through and serve with roasted carrots and a root vegetable puree of your liking.
makes about 3 cups
3 c. Carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Maple syrup
2 c. Broth from your pork belly
salt & Pepper, to taste
- Sautee the carrots in the butter until you have some color on your veggies.
- Add the maple syrup and then the broth, and allow it to cook down until the carrots are tender and the sauce is nice and sticky. There should be enough gelatin to get the job done.
- Season to taste and set aside and keep warm until service.
Paul Suplee is the owner of the
boxcar restaurants and is also
Senior Lecturer of Culinary Arts at UMES.