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

Photo by Sera Petras

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4 servings

    Schmaltz and Crispy Chicken Skins
  • 2 pounds chicken fat and skin (ask your butcher for some)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced small
  • Caesar Dressing
  • 2½ ounces lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, microplaned
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 5 ounces warm chicken schmaltz
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Croutons
  • ½ pound country bread, slightly stale
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Caesar Salad
  • 1 bag containing 3 romaine hearts
  • ¼ cup schmaltz dressing
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan, grated on microplane and divided
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons coarse breadcrumbs, divided (recipe above)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ¼ cup crispy chicken skins

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.
  • from Chef Ian Boden of The Shack Restaurant, Staunton, VA

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