Pork. Need I say more? Some would claim it’s the reason I wake up in the morning. And there are moments when I bite into the right cut that I wonder how true that statement might be.
While there are quite a few cuts of pork I love (the shoulder, the spare rib, the loin), pork belly is one that ranks up there with my favorites. From being able to smoke it to braising it until it melts in your mouth, the pork belly is something I’ve grown to both admire and respect.
So when I encountered Sentiments and started brainstorming dishes I could include them in, it was no surprise that pork belly was one of the first proteins to come to mind. Despite the amount of fat (or “goodness” as I like to call it) the cut carries, pork belly is delicate. It takes on whatever flavors you decide to impart. And this dish proves it to be a seamless backdrop to an even more exquisite ingredient.
Accented with just a few pearls, these Pork Belly Bites Over Whipped Sweet Potato with Sentiments are layered with flavor that hits your palette in waves. Each bite is sweet, savory, aromatic and vibrant. And as one of the most interesting and addictive hors d’oeuvres you will ever eat, these morsels blend the warm flavors of home with the use of elevated ingredients and presentation, making them perfect for any elegant occasion.
Pork Belly Bites Over
Whipped Sweet Potato with Sentiments
(recipe serving size: 10-12 pieces)
For the pork belly:
1 1/4 lb pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes (roughly 10-12 pieces)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
10-15 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tb olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in an oven-safe pot. Add the onion and garlic and brown for 2-3 minutes, stirring to keep the onion and garlic from burning. Season the onion and garlic with the oregano, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the pork belly to the pot and toss with the onions and garlic. Pour in the orange juice and chicken stock along with the fresh thyme and salt. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Transfer the entire pot to the oven and cook for about 2 hours.
Remove the lid and cook in the oven for another 1/2 hour, uncovered. Transfer the pot to the stove and cook the liquid down over medium heat until the braising liquid has reduced further and thickened (15-30 minutes).
For the sweet potato:
1 large sweet potato
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork. Wrap the potato in foil and bake in the oven along with the pork belly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the potato is fork tender.
Once the potato has cooled slightly, remove the skin and place the potato in a high-sided bowl. Smash the potato first with a fork. Stream in the heavy cream and whip with a whisk or process in a food processor until smooth but can still hold shape when scooped. Season with salt to taste.
Bringing it all together:
10-12 cilantro leaves
2 tb honey
Crushed red pepper flakes for garnish and heat
Line a long plate with dollops of the whipped sweet potato, measuring about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons per small mound. Gently place a piece of pork belly onto each dollop of sweet potato and drizzle with honey. Lay a cilantro leaf across the top of each piece of pork belly and spoon 6-8 Sentiments pearls onto each leaf.
Garnish with the crushed red pepper flakes and serve while warm.