I have some super exciting news! I made it to the top 5 of Reading Terminal Market’s Chef Challenge! This is my first time entering any kind of food/cooking competition and I am beyond excited I made it this far. If you could all take a moment to vote for me, I would really appreciate it!
Now go vote by clicking HERE now! You can vote once every 24 hours until Wednesday, August 27th.
The Chef’s Challenge required contestants to create the best dish possible from at least one of the following list of ingredients: dark chocolate, bacon, watermelon, strawberries, honey, pork, peppers / kale or your choice of cheese. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use all the ingredients, so I fixated on the pork ingredient. I live minutes away from the Philadelphia Italian Market and dropped into my favorite butcher, Cannuli’s, to figure out what to make. Their pork belly looked amazing, so I decided to make something with that. I used to be afraid of cooking with pork belly; I would eat it at restaurants, but never thought I could recreate the deliciousness at home…until this recipe!
I had several girlfriends over the night I prepared this and it was a total hit! And my chef roomie helped me with the food styling since she’s a total pro. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as me and my girlfriends did the other night!
This recipe serves 10-12 people as an appetizer
For the pork belly, you will need:
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 1 bottle (12 oz) wheat beer
- 1 cup white wine, like Chardonnay
- 1 knob fresh ginger (~1 inch), whole
- 3 large garlic cloves, mashed
- 1 small orange, quartered
- 1/2 cup dark honey
- sea salt and black pepper
For the basil honey glaze, you’ll need:
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup honey
To finish the appetizer:
- 10-12 slices of French baguette, toasted/warmed up in the oven
- Handful of arugula
- 1 cup fresh watermelon, cut in match sticks
- 1/2 cup chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
- extra virgin olive oil to finish
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan (I <3 my Staub) over high heat. Add sea salt and black pepper generously all over the pork belly and sear it in the hot pan until it is browned on all sides. While the pork belly is searing, put the beer, white wine, ginger, garlic, orange, and honey in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer on top of the stove.
Add the meat to the braising liquid. If the braising liquid doesn’t cover the meat, add a bit of water to the dutch oven until it does. Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 1.5 hours (or until the meat is tender). Transfer the pork belly to a sheet pan and cover the meat with a cutting board or baking sheet. Place something heavy on top to weigh down the meat and keep it flat. Let the pork belly cool with the weight on it.
While the pork belly is cooling, blend the basil with the honey in a food processor or blender to make the glaze.
Cut the cooled meat into 1/4 inch strips. Heat a cast iron frying pan over high heat and sear each strip rapidly to brown. Toss the hot strips with the basil honey glaze. Add more basil honey on the baguette and some arugula. Then place the pork belly and top with goat cheese, watermelon match sticks. and extra virgin olive oil.
I promise this will be a hit at your next dinner party!