The dishes attempted for the purposes of this blog are from, or inspired by, the cook book "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating," and its creator, Fergus Henderson.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pork Belly Confit

You might think, "Pork belly, I understand.  But what the devil is a 'confit'?"  This, my friend, is an excellent question.

Let's start with the easier of the two.  Pork belly is the part of the pig from which we get the commonly consumed breakfast item, and artery clogging fan fave, bacon.  Packaged in slices, it's perfect on toast, with lettuce and tomato.  Packaged whole, it's an entirely different ball game.  The same rules don't necessarily apply.  Boundries seem limitless.  Horizons are broadened. 

Enter, confit. 

Confit is the preservation of a food item in fat.  Many items can be prepared 'confit'.  The most common confit, if one can use the words common, and confit, in the same sentence without sounding awesomely rediculous, dish is probably duck confit.  In this case, B chose pork belly confit.

B started the process by brining the pork in a salt and sugar solution, for twelve hours.  Twelve hours.  I have no idea where I will be in twelve hours, but B knows he will be ending the brining of his pork belly.  Next, lard is melted, then poured over the raw pork belly in an oven safe dish.  Note here, B says it is optimal to use the fat of the same animal meat being confit-ed (i.e. duck fat for duck, pork fat for pork, etc.).  However, in the absence of a specific fat, lard will always suffice. 

This sexy concoction is now baked in a 350F degree oven for about two and a half hours.  When the pork is extremely tender, you are ready to containerize.  Do you want to use the meat in one giant, gluttonous feast? Or do you have a few ideas for your carnivorous delight?  Divide it up (pork, melted lard, and all) among multiple containers.  Keep it all in one.  The choice is yours...  Just make sure the melted fat completely surounds and drowns the meat within the container.    Once you've figured it all out, put it in the refrigerator, and watch as the melted lard solidifies into a slick, fatty, white, jell-o-style cacoon, protecting its delicate, juicy meat core.

When you are ready to use your confit masterpiece, you can do as B did, which was pan frying it, straight up.  Oh yeah, don't be afraid to get down 'n dirty, dare I say, extra dirty!, with this stuff!  Just scrape off that excess fat, being careful to save it for future cooking endeavors, of course, and throw that pork belly in a frying pan!  I do strongly reccommend a splatter screen here.  B and I were painfully aware of the absence of one in our kitchen in this moment. 

The finished product will dissolve on your tongue, leaving you with nothing but an flavor-joyed pallet, and a pork juice high you won't want to come down from. Didn't I say something about 'carnivor's delight'?...

B. Says:

I want more.  I want more.  I want more.  That delicious not quite fat, not quite meat (I'm plagirizing here) quality is awesome. 

I want to brush my teeth with this stuff it is so good.. 

That'll do pig, that'll do.

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