Wickedly wise wizardry in the kitchen: 3 dishes with a slab of pork belly
There was this slab of pork belly, a little over a kilo in weight, frozen and hard as a rock. I forgot to thaw it in the fridge before I went to bed, then, I woke up late and there was very little time to cook what was going to be an already very late lunch. To make matters even more challenging, there weren’t very many vegetables in the fridge — just some green beans and a couple of bell peppers. But I had homemade pesto, some lemongrass, garlic, ginger, chilies…
I put the slab of frozen pork belly in the turbo broiler, unseasoned, set the heat at 475F and waited some 30 minutes until the pork rind was browned and a little puffed. I knew at that point that the meat wouldn’t be cooked through but it didn’t matter — my only goal in putting it in the broiler was to give it texture. I have decided to finish the cooking on the stove top, make as many dishes as I could with the pork in one go so I wouldn’t have to do any more cooking for the rest of the day.
After the meat came out of the broiler, I cut it into portions. The first portion was the side where all the bones were. The boneless side, I divided into horizontally so that one portion had the puffy rind and the other portion was just meat and a little fat.
The portion with the bones, I cut between the bones into four pieces. They were arranged in a small frying pan, half a cup of broth was poured in and then seasonings were added. I let the meat simmer, covered, until done then I added pesto (see how to make pesto and pesto-style salad dressing — you can use either with broiled meat). That was the first dish.
While the first dish simmered, I made two other dishes.
The no-rind portion of the belly, I cut into small cubes and cooked gising-gising (get the recipe). We were out of tomatoes so I used a bell pepper instead.
Then, the last portion with the puffed rind, I cut into half inch slices. I put them in a small frying pan, skin side up, with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, black pepper, spicy vinegar and patis (fermented fish sauce) — adobo with lemongrass (get recipe), what else?
The adobo was the last to go on the stove so the other two dishes were already done while the adobo was still simmering.
I started taking photos. Pull up the blinds just so to allow abundant natural light on the dining table, position the plate like so, arrange the rice bowl this way and that, and click! click! click! went my camera.
Then, I smelled something burning and there was a cloud of smoke above the stove. The bottom of the pan where my lemongrass adobo was cooking was already scorched so I poured in a little broth to save the meat. Heck, I almost pulled it off — three dishes in a little under than an hour… The pork with pesto and the improvised gising-gising were, as Ron Weasley would say, wicked good!
But the lemongrass adobo… Did we throw out the adobo? Nooooo, it wasn’t that bad. I took it out of the pan as soon as I could loosen the meat after pouring in the broth. I did throw out all the aromatics. Later, for dinner, Speedy pan fried the almost-burnt adobo until they were so crisp that they were like adobo-flavored chicharon. It was almost like magic.