Crisp pork belly on cheddar crackers
2 to 3 pounds fresh pork belly
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
About 3 to 4 cups apple juice or fresh apple cider
1 to 2 cups chicken stock or water
Cheddar-mustard crackers (see recipe)
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Mix the salt, sugar, pepper, ginger, garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage. Rub all over the pork belly, coating it well. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap the pork and rinse off the seasoning mix, then dry with paper towels.
Place the sliced onions, carrots and celery in a roasting pan large enough to hold the pork. Add enough apple juice or cider to come halfway up the pork. Add enough stock or water to come 3/4 of the way up the meat. Cover the meat with parchment paper, then cover the pan tightly with heavy duty foil and a lid.
Place in the oven and cook about 6 hours, or until very tender. Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Carefully remove the pork belly from the cooking liquid, lifting from the bottom with a couple of spatulas so it doesn’t fall apart. Place it on the paper-lined pan, and place another sheet of parchment on top. Place another pan on top, then weigh it down with several pounds (such as heavy cans).
Refrigerate overnight. (The cooking liquid can be strained and used for another recipe, such as soup.) Remove from refrigerator, remove weights and peel off the paper. (Can be made to this point up to 4 days ahead. Refrigerate until ready to serve.)
Slice the firm pork belly into 1-by-2-inch cubes. Place in a skillet over medium-high heat and sear, turning carefully with tongs, until browned and crisped on all sides. Serve on a cheddar cracker with a dab of jam.
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound sharp cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor; 5 cups)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1/4 cup brown or yellow mustard seeds (we reduced to 2 tablespoons, which worked fine)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
Makes about 4 dozen.
Blend butter, cheese and egg yolk in a food processor until smooth. Add mustards, salt and flour and pulse just until combined. Transfer the soft dough to a bowl. Cover and chill 15 minutes.
Halve the dough and shape each half into a 12-inch log on a lightly floured surface. Wrap in wax paper and foil, chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (Dough can be frozen for several months. Defrost in the refrigerator before slicing.)
Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or nonstick baking mat, such as Silpat). Unwrap logs and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife. Place slices on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake until lightly brown around edges, switching position of pans halfway through baking, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. Cool crackers and store in an airtight container.