Jupina-glazed pork belly

I’ve neglected this blog for too many months. I’m going to get back into it.
Not always with recipes, sometimes just with pictures.

I’ll try to not be boring.

So this, from Saturday’s nights dinner at Shelley-belly’s Underground, is Jupina-glazed pork belly. The pictures are not great, I hadn’t planned on blogging this… but it tasted awesome.

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Totally inspired by the Boston restaurant Puritan & Company’s awesome Moxie lamb breast (we were there in December and the lamb dish lives on in my memory). I loved that they used a fun local product in their dish and wanted to do the same. Jupina (say hoo-pee-nya) is a Cuban soft drink. Pineapple in flavour, sugar and probably chemical in make-up and much loved by the Miami community. I used this, with a little hit of chilli, to make my glaze. Actually, my jelly.

I braised the belly, pressed it, portioned it, warmed it in the oven and then, seconds before serving, I draped a slice of the jelly over the belly and zapped it under a fiery-hot grill. And it was perfect. The final dish was exactly as I had hoped it would be.

Served on a purée of roast beets and a side of crushed peas – the little dots of pea purée you see in the photo are simply to tie the main dish and the side dish together. Also, on this plate I’ve added a little dash of green with some fresh fennel fronds but in the finished product, the one we served to our guests, I used spicy mustard cress and topped the belly with shards of crispy pork crackling.

Here are a few of the other dishes we loved from Saturday night…

Bone marrow with toasted sour dough bread and parsley and caper salad.

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Confit tomatoes.

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Lime soufflé with fresh mango coulis and green chilli sugar.

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All in all, a pretty good night – we’re looking forward to the next one.

And if you find yourself in Boston in the near future, be sure to check-out Puritan & Company, you’ll thank me, they’re doing good things.


A little braising tip

I’m not going to bore you with a recipe for braising, unless you specifically want me to (in which case, drop me a line). There are lots of excellent braising recipes and ideas on the net written by cooks far more proficient than I.

What I am going to do is a to share a handy braising tip from a genius of clever cheffy tips. In his book, Ad Hoc At Home, Thomas Keller suggests using cheesecloth to stop the braising herbs and veg from sticking to the meat, “Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pot. Moisten the cheesecloth and wring dry, place over the vegetables, and fold over the edges to form a “nest” for the meat.”

Genius! Well, maybe not exactly “genius” but pretty smart.

I find it is easier, and tidier, to use a piece of cheesecloth that’s big enough to loosely wrap the whole piece of meat before putting it into the pan and surrounding it with the vegetables.

So today I’m braising a 6 pound piece of pork belly for this Saturday’s dinner at Shelley-belly’s Underground. Dinner itself is supposed to be a surprise so no more details… maybe next week.