For the Pork Belly Brine
- 1 quart (4 cups) water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2½-pound section pork belly
For the Pork Belly Braising Liquid
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive oil
- 3 slices apple-wood smoked bacon
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 10 ounces mushroom stems or chopped button mushrooms
- 2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup sherry, preferably fino or oloroso
- 6 cups Dark Chicken Stock
- 1 cup Veal Demi-Glace
For the Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes
- 1 to 2 cups olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Sprig fresh thyme
- Sprig fresh rosemary
- 12 petite heirloom tomatoes
How to Make It
To Brine the Pork Belly
- Combine all of the ingredients, except the pork belly, in a medium sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Chill the brine over an ice bath.
- Place the pork belly in a shallow dish large enough to hold it flat. Pour the brine over it. Weight it down with a plate and refrigerate for 3–4 hours.
- Remove the belly from the brine and rinse it well. Discard the brine. To Braise the Pork Belly
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Combine the oil and bacon in a medium to large roasting pan. Warm the mixture over medium heat on the stovetop until the bacon becomes translucent. Scoot the bacon slice to the edge of the pan and add the pork belly. Sear the belly well on both sides, about 8 minutes total. With tongs, transfer the belly to a plate. Add the vegetables, tarragon, and mustard, and saute until the vegetables are golden brown and limp. The bacon should be well-browned.
- Pour the sherry into the pan and reduce until almost dry. Pour in the stock and demi-glace and bring to boil. Return the pork belly to the pan. Cover the pan and place in the oven to braise for about 2 hours, until quite tender. With tongs, transfer the belly to a plate again. Degrease the pan liquid. Place the pan back on a stove burner over medium heat. Reduce the liquid by approximately one-half, to a sauce consistency. Discard the bacon. To Prepare the Tomatoes
- In a small to medium sauce pan, combine enough oil to cover the tomatoes with the garlic, pepper, salt, and herbs. Warm the oil 125°F–130°F. Gently drop in the tomatoes and poach them for 5–7 minutes, until soft with lightly wrinkled skins. With a spider, transfer the tomatoes from the oil to paper towels. To Prepare the Crumbs
- Warm the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook briefly until it is brown and crisp. Stir in the brioche crumbs and peppercorns and cook another couple of minutes until the crumbs are toasted and crisp. Set aside to cool, then fold in the cheese. To Prepare the Mousseline
- Combine in a small sauce pan the butter, almonds, shallot, and garlic. Warm over medium heat until the shallot and garlic have softened and almonds have colored a shade darker, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and stout and reduce by one-half, about 5 more minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Putting it all Together
- Cut the pork belly into 8 equal pieces. Season it with salt and pepper. Warm a large skillet pan with the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Sear the pork belly for 2 minutes on each side or until well-browned. Pour in the sauce made from the braising liquid, and reduce the heat to medium.
- Arrange 2 pieces of belly on each plate, place 3 tomatoes on each plate, then sprinkle the crumbs evenly over each portion of tomatoes. Spoon on 1 or 2 mounds of mousseline on each plate, garnish with arugula leaves, and serve.