Hearing about hangover cures from foreign lands never gets old, which is one of the reasons I decided to tackle this Hangover Curing Pork Belly from Home Made by Yvette van Boven. The other reason? Pork belly never gets old—for me at least. Van Boven describes how she serves this pork belly in her restaurant, sliced and presented on crusty bread with a side of potato salad and sinus-clearing horseradish-lemon sauce. Sounds like the kind of carby, fatty, spicy plate that can cure what ails you, right?
Of course, you don't need to feel rough around the edges to enjoy this awesome pork belly preparation. What you do need is at least a day or two to let the pork sit and soak up a salty, herbal crust of fennel seeds and bay leaves. The crust cures the pork slightly, taking out moisture and making sure that when it's time to bake you're left with a piece of beautifully striated pork that has a crust that's as crackly as can be.
Pairing such a fatty cut of meat with a sour cream-based sauce might seem like the definition of overkill, but there's something that's kind of perfect about the hot-sour-creamy combination of horseradish and lemon stirred into tangy sour cream. Spread onto chunks of salty porky belly, the sauce has enough spice and acidity to keep things bright and even fresh.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Home Made to give away this week.
- 1/4 piece pork belly, without skin (ask your butcher), approx. 2 lb
- 1 generous handful of coarse sea salt
- 1 handful of fennel seeds
- At least 12 bay leaves, as fresh as possible
- For the horseradish sauce:
- 1 piece fresh horseradish the length of your thumb (or 2 tbsp from a jar)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Score the fat on the pork belly with a sharp knife to make an attractive plaid pattern. Rub the entire piece with salt and fennel. This is a rough job; do not skimp on the ingredients. Press bay leaves into the grooves and inside the meat. Wrap in a clean dish towel, place in a suitable dish in the refrigerator, and cover with a heavy object. Leave to stand for 24 hours, but 2 days is even better. By processing it in this way, the meat acquires flavor, but the salt also extracts moisture from the meat, which will make the pork crispier later.
Heat the oven to 340°F, place the pork belly in a baking pan, and bake for at least 1 hour in the oven, or until the top is crispy and golden brown and the meat is fully cooked.
In the meantime, make the horseradish sauce: Peel the horseradish with a vegetable peeler and grate it on a fine grater. Or better still, use a food processor, as fresh horseradish is very sharp and will make your eyes tear up! Stir in the sour cream and lemon juice. (Once blended with the other ingredients the fumes will disappear.) Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with the meat.