When you open your fridge, do you sometimes get the feeling that there’s nothing there you want to make into dinner? I had that feeling the other night. It wasn’t like the fridge was empty. It was full. It’s just that nothing there looked like they belonged together in one cohesive dish. And it was so tempting to just ask Speedy if he could make the five-minute drive to buy siopao from the Kowloon House outlet just outside the village. But I stopped myself from saying anything to him. It just isn’t right to take the easy way out — it’s like admitting defeat.
So, I sat down. I let the images of the contents of the fridge parade inside my head. One by one. There was pork. There were tomatoes, okra, peppers, carrots and herbs in the vegetable compartment. There was a huge jar of kidney beans that I cooked overnight with pork bones in the slow-cooker the night before. There were jars of sauces, condiments and seasonings. And there was a jar of black olives. There were dried herbs and spices in the pantry…
I backtracked a little. You know, like pressing a button on the remote so that the DVD player jumps back to the previous track? Black olives. Pork, beans and vegetables — that’s such a tired combination already. But with black olives… I must have smiled at that point. And I started preparing dinner.
- 300 g. of boneless pork belly
- 1 tsp. of salt
- ½ tsp. of pepper
- ¼ tsp. of cayenne
- 1 tbsp. of dried rosemary
- ½ tsp. of dried thyme
- ⅓ c. of bone broth (preferably homemade)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 to 3 tomatoes, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 6 to 8 okra, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 c. of cooked beans with the cooking liquid
- ¼ to ⅓ c. of sliced black olives
- snipped parsley, to garnish
- Heat a cast iron pan. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can broil or grill the pork. I used a cast iron pan, so, I’m starting the recipe with heating it.
- While the pan heats, cut the pork belly into slices about three-quarters of an inch thick.
- Mix together the salt, pepper, cayenne, rosemary and thyme. Rub the mixture on the pork slices.
- Lay the pork in the hot pan in a single layer. Sear over high heat until the bottom of each slice is browned. Flip the meat slices and brown the opposite side. Pour in the broth. Lower the heat, cover the pan snugly and cook for about 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, the broth should be gone and the pork would have rendered fat. Lift out the pork slices and set aside.
- To the fat in the pan, add the sliced onion. Cook over medium heat until a bit softened. Add the tomatoes and the garlic. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
- It will take a couple of minutes for the tomatoes to soften. Use the time to cut the pork into bite-size pieces.
- Add the diced peppers and carrot, okra, beans, black olives and pork to the pan. My beans were cooked in broth and I added a few tablespoonfuls of the cooking liquid. You can substitute meat broth. But use only a a little. The whole point of the last stage of cooking is to let the vegetables cook in their own juices. The flavors get really concentrated that way. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
- Oh man, it’s so good.