BRAISED PORK BELLY

WHOEVER IMAGINED UNCURED BACON WOULD BECOME SO POPULAR?  PORK BELLY HAS BECOME A STAPLE ON RESTAURANT MENUS.  NO WONDER.  WHO DOESN’T LIKE BACON? PORK BELLY, CONSISTING LARGELY OF LAYERS OF FAT AND MEAT, IS INEXPENSIVE, ALTHOUGH NOT READILY AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL SUPERMARKET.  TRY A BUTCHER AND, IF POSSIBLE, SPEND A BIT MORE FOR HEIRLOOM PORK FROM BERKSHIRE (KUROBUTA) PIGS.  LIKE MOST BRAISED DISHES, THIS DISH IS BEST MADE A DAY AHEAD, WHICH ALLOWS THE FAT IN THE JUICE TO CONGEAL ON THE SURFACE WHERE IT IS EASILY REMOVED BEFORE COOKING.  BUT, IN A PINCH, JUST STRAIN THE JUICE AND FREEZE IT FOR AN HOUR, THEN REMOVE THE FAT.  WHITE TURNIPS WERE IN THE FARMERS’ MARKET ON SUNDAY, BUT THIS IS REALLY A YEAR-ROUND DISH, SO IF YOU FIND RUTABAGAS, SPRING ONIONS, PARSNIPS, OR CELERIAC, GO FOR IT.  AND A NICE BAGUETTE TO SOP UP THE JUICE.
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