Want something special this Labor Day that goes beyond the backyard grill?
Try something new and truly over-the-top with a cut of pork most people never consider the belly.
Though usually turned into bacon, pork bellies can be delicious even without the curing process. Its thin strips of meat layered between succulent fat are delicious braised.
AP Photo - - Beer-Braised Pork Belly.
If you've never had braised pork belly, keep in mind that like bacon, it's incredibly rich. And incredibly high in calories. Perfect for a special indulgence.
For this recipe, we've cooked the meat in a braising liquid of dark beer and root veggies. The mixture is pureed afterward to create a rich gravy, perfect served with mashed potatoes or over egg noodles.
Beer-Braised Pork Belly
Start to finish: 2 hours 30 minutes (30 minutes active). Serves 8.
2 pounds pork belly, cut into 8 pieces
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Two 12-ounce bottles dark beer, such as stout
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
Salt and ground black pepper
8 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
8 ounces parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sear the pieces of pork belly until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and beginning to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the beer, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.
Return the pieces of pork belly to the pot. Add the carrots, parsnips and chicken broth. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces of pork belly to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.
Bring the remaining ingredients up to a boil and reduce to 2-1/2 cups. Working in batches as needed, transfer the mixture to a blender and carefully puree. Return the puree to the pan, then stir in the heavy cream and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve with the pork belly.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 780 calories; 592 calories from fat (76 percent of total calories); 66 g fat (25 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 102 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 14 g protein; 2 g fiber; 142 mg sodium.