In the Belly of the Beast: Maple Pork Belly w. Corn Waffles

Pork Belly PromisesOh pork belly. After years of being on the upswing of trendy foods, it amazes me how many people still don’t know what pork belly is. In my job as a meat distributor, I work mainly with chefs who are well-versed in their cuts of meat. However we often get calls from “general public” people (our term for those unassociated with the industry) who want to buy pork belly because they need it for a recipe, but have no idea what it is and are often worried that it’s some bizarre unusual piece of meat.

I then get to explain to them that they’ve most likely been eating pork belly for years — in its cured and smoked form, bacon. Usually they are shocked, which I always find a little funny. But it makes me happy to know more and more people who are not chefs are getting to appreciate this delicious and decadent cut of pork.

My point here is that pork belly = glorious, happy goodness.

Which is why for Thanksgiving this year my husband and I said screw the turkey, let’s cook a pork belly. We actually did a whole “Momofuku” spread with steamed buns, pickled vegetables and roasted pork belly (don’t worry, a full post is in the works!). It was an amazing meal, but considering it was a monstrous 12-pound piece of pork, we still had lots of leftovers.

Which means I had an opportunity to make this dish for dinner last week:

Pork Belly Perfection!

Pork Belly Perfection: Corn and Cheddar Waffles with Maple-Glazed Pork Belly.

It was absolutely, positively as fantastic as it looks! I promise you. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to make it yourself.

Did I just hear you say “challenge accepted”?

Okay then, follow my lead:

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Fresh Corn Chowder: A Soup to Soothe the Savage Cold

You know fall is coming when you catch your first cold of the season. I spent a good amount of time last week in a daze of Sudafed and cough syrup, wishing that I felt good enough to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine. Instead I spent every night curled up on my couch watching Season 3 of Drop Dead Diva and eating soup.

I probably deserved to get sick since it seems as though I spent all of September running around with barely any time to rest. First came WAG, followed by a weekend in Tacoma and then the next weekend was FEAST. And FEAST brought with it parties, after parties and after-hours after parties, where I ingested entirely too much free champagne. I got a picture with Fergus Henderson while partying at the top of the Wieden+Kennedy building, shook hands with Sean Brock around 2 am at Nostrana and stalked the hell out of April Bloomfield (though I was too shy to approach her).

And then I caught a serious cold. Even though I’m a little sad about that, I have to say two things:

  1. It was totally, absolutely worth it!
  2. The soups I made to aid my recovery were rockin’!

My favorite one was actually a recipe for White Cheddar Corn Chowder that I pulled from a 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living. How I managed to wait five years before making this, I’ll never know but I can say I won’t be waiting another five before making it again!

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Pork Tenderloin and Raviolis with a Sweet Corn Sauce

I have always loved corn. As a kid, I remember my mom would set out a bowl of frozen corn while she made dinner, ready to pop it in the microwave at the last minute. But she often had to refill the bowl before it made it that far because I used to sneak handfuls of the frozen kernels to snack on. Yes, frozen corn. Such a cold but tasty treat. And yes, I was kind of a strange kid.

It’s still one of my favorite vegetables (starches?) of all time. I love it raw right off the cob, especially when it comes from my grandparents’ garden, or hot off the grill, slathered in butter. I love it in soups, stews and curries. I’ve even eaten it numerous times in pasta dishes — one of my favorites being with lobster, cream and agnolotti. *Swoon*

So really, a sweet corn sauce for raviolis (filled with corn puree, roasted poblano chiles and manchego cheese) was truly the best idea for dinner I’d had in a while. To keep it from being a total carb fest, I bought a pork tenderloin for protein, some arugula for roughage and some spring onions because I have no power to resist them. Oh and a spicy serrano pepper and garlic to make things extra tasty.

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