The inspiration for this dish riffs pretty heavily on a post from Ideas in Food, I highly recommend getting them into your daily reading list, or hit them up on twitter. I actually have version two of this on the go now as I write, I’ve amped up the seasoning and am going to experiment a little more with the cooking and serving, so not really the same dish but this served as a springboard to push ideas further.
Counter to my last post about getting maximum comfort for little effort this post is really pushing things in the other direction, but holy heck is it worth it! It’ll take a little time and a little bit of investment of going to a butcher and getting a decent slab of pork belly, which may or may not be frozen, a supermarket is not going to have what you need, I’ve never seen a good three inch thick slab of belly at one, and quite frankly you’ll probably be paying twice the price. I ended up by chance at Preston's in town after doing my restock at Yan's Asian supermarket and they just happened to have a good deal going on frozen bellies, so $20 later and more than 2kg heavier, I left a happy chappy.
There is a bit to this but it’s not really all active, there is a lot of down time, so there are no stress about getting stuff done on time. You’re going to have to plan ahead a few days, so here is the rough break down.
- Defrost the belly if you have to, in the fridge.
- Cure the pork, 24 hours.
- Remove, rinse and dry the pork. Dust with white pepper and place on a rack uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Place in a roasting pan with the braising ingredients, cook for 8 hours at 120ºC.
- Sometime during that 8 hours make some cavatelli, which is about half an hours work.
- Remove and rest for half an hour, uncovered.
- Cook cavatelli and remove excess fat from the braising liquid, taste and season, combine.
Pork belly, 2kg or so
Bottle of red wine
Tomatoes, 2 cans crushed
1 Part Sugar
1 Part Salt
Bay leaf powder
Weigh the pork and work out what 2.5% of the total weight is, that is the weight of sugar and salt to use.
Score the pork deeply to the meat, rub the cure mix in and transfer to a zip lock bag, refrigerate for 24 hours, try to flip it once or twice during that time.
Remove the pork from the bag and rinse, pat dry, coat in white pepper and place on a rack on a pan. Put it back in the fridge for 24 hours.
Time to cook!
Place the pork in a roasting dish. Dice the whole pepperoni and scatter around, add in the tomatoes and the whole bottle of wine, I used a tasty Shiraz. Place the tray into an oven preheated at 120ºC. Set a timer for 8 hours and forget about it.
Well apart from the cavatelli you need to make. Just follow the recipe on this page, I subbed out roasted rye for wholemeal flour but rye would be pretty awesome here too.
Take the pork out of the oven and very carefully transfer it to a board. Pour the braising liquid into a pot and let it settle for a while, skim off any excessive fat as this will be a sauce, place it over a very low flame to keep warm.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the cavatelli, drain and stir through the sauce, keep warm.
By now the pork should have rested for 30–45 minutes. Slice into thick slabs, cutting along the scores, serve with a generous spoon of cavatelli.