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Braised Pork Belly with Creamy Cannellini Beans and Candied Tomatoes

September 19, 2012 by Joan Nova in Beans/Legumes, Italian, Meat, Recipe Development, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

One of the courses in Sunday’s Brunch, Booze + Bagpipes was pork belly, ‘stilo Italiano’.

Pork Belly is a boneless slab of fatty meat cut from (you guessed it) the belly of the pig. What differentiates it from bacon is the butchering and the various cooking methods. It’s clearly not a dish one should eat frequently or in nothing more than a small portion … but, mamma mia, it is delicious!

It’s very popular in Asian fusion restaurants and most of the recipes found online tend to embrace those flavors as well. But I knew I wanted to take mine to the Mediterranean so I created my own flavor profile and accompaniments. Here’s the ‘recipe’ for all 3 components, each of which adds distinct levels of flavor. Together they compliment each other.

Pork Belly
I got the pork belly on special order from my local supermarket. They also cut it into twelve 2″ portions (3.5 lbs.) per my request and then even scored it for me. Yea, Publix!

The Day Before

Step 1:
Preparing the meat
Season with salt and pepper. Make a umami paste  and rub it into all sides and into scores; cover with plastic and refrigerate. Overnight is recommended, but I did about 3 hours which I think is sufficient time.

Preparing the braising liquid.

chopped celery, onion, fennel, tomatoes, garlic, carrot, parsley, dried imported mushrooms, 32 ozs. chicken broth, water, white wine

Cook for 1 hour until vegetables are softened; add 1 cup white wine, bring to a boil and simmer for additional 1/2 hour. Puree* with immersion blender.

Step 2:
After refrigeration/marination, sear pork fat side down, then on all sides.

Pour hot braising liquid over meat and put in preheated oven (covered) at 300-325 degrees for about 3 hours if cut in small pieces like this; much longer if cooking slab whole.

Step 3:
Separate meat from sauce and refrigerate overnight.

*key step in intensifying flavors and making rich sauce

 Creamy Cannellini Beans

Cook the beans in chicken broth* (diluted by water if  more liquid is needed) and garlic*. Half-way through, add about a handful of little pieces of cheese rind* (Parmigiano Reggiano). I salt after it’s cooked and just sitting in the pot cooling down. Cool and blend to a puree with olive oil. Adjust seasoning, if needed.

*key ingredients in adding lots of flavor

Candied Tomatoes

I wanted to use plum tomatoes, but the ones in the market that day weren’t as nice as the grape variety. Toss with olive oil, a little salt, chili flakes and brown sugar; add a few capfuls of Italian Sweet Vermouth. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour.

Next Day

I did all 3 components the day before. The next day I brought everything to room temperature. The beans were quickly heated in microwave and the pork belly was placed in high temperature oven for about 10-15 minutes and then under broiler for a few minutes to crisp skin.

Note: Because the cannellini beans were so creamy, the delicious thick sauce created from the braising liquid was kind of superfluous for this meal. It is stored in the freezer for some future use.



NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. bellini says:

    Now that is comfort food on a plate Joan. I would gladly indulge.

  2. Lovely meal Joan. How nice that the butcher was able to do some of the prep for you on the meat.

    I could eat just those pretty candied tomatoes for lunch with the beans and be very happy. Really like the touch of sweet Vermouth too.
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Monday Musings – Alpacas at our Farmer’s MarketMy Profile

  3. So glad you posted the “how-to” for these recipes. I almost wept when I first spied them, they looked so good. I particularly liked the simple treatment of the beans..What a delicious-looking meal!
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Class Fun, Puptides, and a RecipeMy Profile

  4. Pork belly is a favourite around here – but not a staple – it is just to rich – such a treat!!!! This looks like a very satisfying and smart combination!
    A Canadian Foodie recently posted..Halloumi: HomemadeMy Profile

  5. Marie says:

    Oh Mama Mia, I want some now!

  6. I have some pork belly left over from last night and will be using today. The white bean smash I like very much. You really make comfort food look pretty…
    Platanos Mangoes & Me! recently posted..Té para Dos o Más- Tea for Two or MoreMy Profile

  7. Adding the rind of Parmesan is one of my favourite methods of giving a sauce or a soup extra depth of flavour. As always Joan, your combinations are fantastic.
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..Meeta is back – Food photography and styling workshop newsMy Profile

  8. Lori Lynn says:

    Because it is so rich, one never sees it in quantity. That whole platter of pork belly is such a sight! The flavor combinations sound incredible.
    Lori Lynn recently posted..Chicken Pad Thai, Korean-StyleMy Profile

  9. Mmm… yum – the pork belly and the creamy cannellini sound absolutely heavenly.

  10. Joan, Do you realize you just made pork and beans? Not like any those food processors sell in the grocery store. This is gut satisfying, soul food, with those flavors we love.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Healthy Fish and Sweet Potato GritsMy Profile

  11. Just mag Joan! Incredible and that crispy skin on the pork belly is making me swwon so to mention the creamy beans and those wonderful roasted tomatoes. You are just an incredible hostess and what a good friend! :)

    chow! DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..Lunch Box Treats ~ Chewy Oatmeal, Coconut & Fruit CookiesMy Profile

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