Braised Pork Belly with Glazed Turnips


1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless pork belly, skin on or skin off

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought

1 1/2-pound small turnips
1 tablespoon reserved pork fat or unsalted butter
1/4 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, or as needed
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


Spice rub (1 to 2 days in advance): Combine the peppercorns, coriander and dill seed in a small mortar or a spice grinder. Grind until cracked but not reduced to a powder. Add the salt and grind briefly to combine.

Dry the pork well with paper towels and place it on a small baking sheet or large plate. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork, turning and rubbing until all the spices adhere; this may take a few turns. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Brown the pork: Pat the surface of the pork dry with paper towels. If some of the spices come off, save these for later. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or shallow braising dish (4- to 5-quart) over medium-high heat. Add the pork, skin (or fat, if you bought skinless) side down and sear until the skin (or fat) sizzles and browns evenly, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

The aromatics: Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the onion, carrot and celery, and sauté until the vegetables are softening and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves and cloves. Stir and sauté for another minute or so.

The braising liquid: Add the white wine, bring to a simmer, and stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge any seared-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine reduces down to a couple of tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

The braise: Return the pork, skin side up, to the pan. Scrape in any spices that have fallen off the pork. Cover with foil or a secure lid, and slide into the middle of the oven. Braise, checking every 45 minutes to baste and to make sure that the liquid isn’t simmering too rapidly or evaporating, until the pork is completely tender, 2 1/4 to 3 hours. Turn down the oven 10 or 15 degrees if the liquid is simmering too briskly. And if the pan threatens to dry out, add some water, about 1/4 cup at a time. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool in the braising liquid.

The finish: When the pork is cool enough to handle, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, and set the pan aside. If the pork is skin-on, run a long sharp knife blade just under the skin and remove it. Score the exposed fat in a cross-hatch patter, making shallow cuts about 1 inch apart, then cut the pork into 4 even portions.

Browning the pork: Strain the braising liquid into a large glass measuring cup, pressing down lightly on the vegetables to extract any liquid (don’t press so hard as to mash the vegetables), and then discard the vegetables. With a large spoon, skim off the excess fat that floats on the surface of the strained liquid — reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat to sauté the turnips if you like (or you can use the butter). Return the pork to the braising pan or another shallow baking dish. Reserve 1/4 cup of the braising liquid for the turnips and pour the remaining braising liquid over the top of the pork. Slide the pork, uncovered, onto the middle oven rack until sizzling and browned and heated through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, glaze the turnips: If using baby turnips, trim the stalks and scrub the turnips. For larger, purple-top turnips, peel and cut into 1-inch wedges. Choose a skillet just large enough to hold the turnips in a single layer (10-inch). Combine the turnips, the reserved pork fat or butter, sugar and reserved 1/4 cup braising liquid in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer until the turnips are just tender when prodded with a small knife or thin skewer, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the lid and cook, shaking and stirring, until the liquid has evaporated and the turnips have a golden sheen, another 5 minutes or so. If the pork is not ready, set aside in a warm place.

Serving: Serve the pork and turnips on warm plates. Taste the braising liquid for salt and pepper, adjust seasonings as necessary, and spoon a bit over each serving.

From “All About Braising”

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