Baby Kale Salad with Pork Confit, Roasted Squash, Apples and Cider Dressing

Here’s an idea for leftover pork from MidSt8 Taco at the West Shore Farmer’s Market.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

1/2 pound local baby kale, stems removed, washed and dried well
8 ounces pork belly confit, chopped and crisped (recipe to follow)
4 ounces diced roasted butternut or blue Hubbard squash (recipe to follow)
2 firm textured local apples, peeled and diced
2 ounces crumbled queso fresco
1 large or two small shallots, peeled and finely minced
Best quality cider vinegar
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pork Belly Confit

3 pounds pork belly, skin on
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp. freshly ground cinnamon (preferably Mexican)
Braising liquid
2 Tbsp. lard or other cooking fat
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into half moons
2 quarts apple cider
Cinnamon stick
3 cloves, 3 black peppercorns, 4 allspice berries

Method

1. The day before you want to cook your pork belly, rinse and dry well. Using a razor or a very sharp knife. Cut vertical slits in the skin across the width of the belly, being careful not to cut into the meat. Combine dry ingredients and rub into the belly, turning to do the underside as well. Sprinkle any remaining mixture on top, place it in a non-reactive deep casserole dish and cover with plastic or parchment paper. Place a weight on top and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. The next day, rinse and dry the belly well and discard any liquid from the container. Place the belly in a deep non reactive ovenproof dish. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a heavy gauge pan and add the fat when it is warm. Allow the fat to heat briefly and then add the onions to the pan. Sweat the onions gently over a low flame until they have released all their liquid and are soft. Add the cider to the pot and scrape the bottom of the pot well to deglaze. Add the spices, season lightly with salt and cook for a few minutes until the cider has begun to reduce and the favors have married. Pour the braising liquid over the pork, making sure the liquid covers the meat. (Add a little water if it doesn’t). Cover tightly with a lid or foil and place it on a tray. Place on the center rack of the oven and cook for a half hour or so and then lower the temperature to the lowest oven setting, usually 190 or 200. Cook for eight hours to 12 hours or until the pork is tender when pressed. Remove from the oven, leave the meat in the liquid and allow to cool completely on a rack before re wrapping and refrigerating overnight.

3. The next day, remove all the visible solid fat no take the meat out of the liquid, carefully scraping the liquid back into the dish. Dry the belly well, particularly the skin, and place it on several layers of paper towel. Place the braising liquid into a pot and carefully degrease it. Melt it in a pot and when it is liquid, strain and return to the pot, discarding solids. Reduce the liquid by half or until it becomes syrupy. Pass through a fine meshed strainer and reserve.

4. To crisp the pork belly, use a cast iron or other heavy skillet which is closest in size to the piece of pork belly. Heat the skillet over a low flame and add a scant amount of lard or other fat. Place the pork belly in skin side down and place a smaller skillet or lid atop the pork, pressing the skin closer to the surface of the pan.Top the ensemble with a splatter screen and allow the skin to crisp, making sure to keep the flame low and using a spatula to rotate the meat in the pan so it crisps evenly. Flip it over when the first side is done and brown the second and then remove the meat to a cutting board.

5. When the pork has become cool enough to handle, use a cleaver to coarsely chop it. Put the chopped meat into a bowl and taste, adding salt as needed. Pour the reserved braising liquid over it and toss well to combine. Keep warm.

Squash

1. Cut the top and bottom off the squash and then cut in half horizontally. Using a sturdy, straight edged peeler or a knife, cut the skin off the squash and then cut the squash into large filets. Cut each filet into even strips and then cut the strips into a medium dice. Preheat the oven to 375 or so and place a heavy gauge or non stick sheet pan in the oven. Place the diced squash In a large bowl. Place the spices in a grinder and buzz until the are finely ground. Add them to the squash and add the salt. Add enough olive oil to just lubricate the contents of the bowl and toss well. There should not be a puddle of oil in the bottom. Pour the contents of the bowl onto the preheat pan and roast the squash until it is golden no soft, turning as necessary to ensure even cooking.

2. When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store the extra squash for another use and reserve the rest in a warm spot.

3. When you are ready to prepare the salad, marinate the minced shallots in enough cider vinegar to cover. Place the kale in large salad bowl and season lightly with olive oil, tossing gently to coat each leaf. Add the marinated shallots (and the vinegar which remains in the bowl)
and the apples and toss. Add the squash and grind some black pepper and gently toss. Taste and correct the seasonings, adding vinegar, salt and oil as needed. Distribute the salad onto four plates and then garnish each with some of the warm pork. Spoon some of the braising
liquid over each salad and onto the plate as well and serve immediately.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s