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Pastrami Pork Belly with Pumpernickel Bread Pudding and Dill-Pickled Beets 


Pork Belly Brine

1 gallon water

2½ cups kosher salt

4 tablespoons pink salt

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons pickling spice

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

¼ cup honey

5 cloves garlic, peeled

5 pounds pork belly

Dill-Pickled Beets

8 cups red beets, peeled and sliced on mandoline

8 sprigs fresh dill

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds 

4 black peppercorns

½ teaspoon dill seed

1½ cups white vinegar

2½ cups water

Bread Pudding

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed 

1 garlic clove, minced

2 onions, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon caraway, toasted and ground

8 eggs

4 cups heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1 loaf pumpernickel bread, diced and toasted


Pork Belly Brine
  1. Combine all ingredients except pork belly in a pot set over medium-high heat and cook until salt and sugar dissolve completely.
  2. Cool brine completely and pour over pork belly. Place a plate over meat to keep it submerged and refrigerate for 5 days.
  3. Remove meat from brine and air-dry overnight.
  4. Smoke in a cold smoker for 4 hours.
  5. Place belly in a 300-degree oven for 1 hour, skin side down on a rack, to render some of the fat.
  6. Remove rack and place belly, meat side down, in its own fat to finish cooking and roast this way for an additional 2 hours. When completely tender, remove from oven. Note: It is always better the second day, so allow belly to rest overnight in its juices. The following day, remove from refrigerator, scrape off any fat and juice that is sticking to pork, and cut into 1-inch-thick slices.
Dill-Pickled Beets
  1. Pack beets, dill, and garlic into a container.
  2. Combine salt, mustard, peppercorns, dill seed, vinegar, and water in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Carefully pour pickling liquid over beets and cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate pickles. Yield: 2 quarts
Bread Pudding
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a frying pan set over medium heat, melt butter and oil together until butter starts to foam, then add garlic, onion, thyme, and caraway. Cook until tender. Remove from pan and allow to come to room temperature.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and cream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, then add toasted bread and lightly toss until coated. Allow mixture to rest for several minutes, allowing bread to soak up egg and cream mixture. Add in onion mixture and lightly toss again.
  4. Place mixture into a 6×8-inch greased baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until pudding is set, approximately 1 hour.
To Finish and Assemble Dish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Set a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork belly; the fat will render and then brown.
  3. Place skillet in oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on one side and hot all the way through. Drain on paper towels.
  4. In middle of each plate, place a scoop of bread pudding, arrange pork belly on top, and garnish with pickled beets. Serve with yellow mustard.
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