Any time the words "pork belly" are uttered in our family, a general wave of happiness rolls through the house. I was thinking out loud last night about whether to make butternut squash ravioli or pork belly ravioli, and before I could finish my words, I got a resounding pork belly! Then I was thinking... why not have both?
For the braised pork belly
Prepare the belly:
1 1.5 lb pork belly, rind removed
equal parts salt and sugar mixture (ala that used for Momofuku's pork buns)
Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse and dry the pork belly. Rub liberally with salt/sugar mixture. Place in a tight fitting pan and refrigerate overnight. When ready to braise, rinse the pork belly well to remove the salt/sugar mixture. Dry. Cut belly into 3" x 4" pieces, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Make a mirepoix of:
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped (or 1/2 small onion)
a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley and thyme
1 12 oz bottle of lager beer
3 cups chicken broth
Heat a small braising pot over medium heat. Brown the pork belly, fat side down first. You don't need to add any oil to the pan as the fat will render from the pork. Remove the pork and add the mirepoix and saute until softened. Deglaze with the beer, then add in the parsley, thyme and chicken broth. Return the pork belly and simmer, covered, over low heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until very tender.
Remove the pork belly to a dish, and cover with saran wrap so it doesn't dry out.
Strain the braising liquid and return to pan.
Reduce over medium high heat for about 7 minutes.
Return pork belly to the broth and cover until ready to serve
For the Butternut Squash Ravioli
10 sheets fresh pasta, about 2 lbs
1 small butternut squash
3 tbsp soft brie
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup grated parmagiano reggiano
4 thin slices prosciutto, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
I didn't have it in me today to bust out fresh pasta of my own to use for the ravioli. Instead, I went to Pasta and Co. for their fresh egg pasta sheets. This worked out great, but a fair warning, it is difficult to get them to stick together to make the ravioli. I brushed all edges with egg and had to press very firmly to get it to stick. Usually, the cutting of the ravioli alone will stick it together.
For the filling, slice the butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds. Roast in the oven at 425f, flesh side down for 25 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mash. There should be about 3 1/2 cups. Add in the remaining ingredients and incorporate well. Scoop tablespoon sized rounds onto 5 sheets of pasta, leaving enough room around each scoop to seal the ravioli. Lay the remaining 5 sheets on top and use a rolling cutter to cut into squares. This made about 50 ravioli, plenty to freeze for future meals.
Boil the ravioli for 4 minutes. Drain. For the plate, I sauteed some spinach until just wilted. Make a brown butter with sage by melting butter in a pan slowly until slightly browned, then add sage and turn the heat off. Lay a few ravioli down with a bit of spinach and a piece of the pork belly. Ladle a bit of the broth from the pork belly and then spoon a little of the browned butter on top.
It was a back breaker of a meal for a Tuesday night. But well worth it! Pretty darn good combo and I'm glad I went for both!