Let's say you want a BLT, except it's not quite peak tomato season and you only have a slab of raw pork belly, not bacon. That's the terrible dilemma I faced this week when I was struck with an uncontrollable urge for a BLT, but without all the ingredients to execute it flawlessly. Was that going to stop me? Of course not. I just had to get creative.
While I lacked big red tomatoes to slice, I was flush with little cherry ones. Instead of leaving them whole, I took a trick from Kenji's recent pico de gallo post: the small tomatoes are chopped, tossed with salt, and left in a colander for 20 minutes. Water is drawn out and they intensify in flavor.
Any dreams of thick slabs of succulent pork belly disappeared once I realized how long it would take to render all that fat. I didn't have three hours to dedicate to the slow roasting process. Fortunately, I remembered that I've used pork belly in some quick stir-fry recipes before. All I needed to do was slice the pork belly very thin and cook it until well browned.
The result is an amped up BLT experience, one that feels a little saltier and more unhinged. It's not necessarily better, but the mix of textures provides a different experience for BLT aficionados like me.
- 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, stems removed, quartered
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1/2 pound pork belly, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
- 8 slices bread, toasted
- 8 leaves green lettuce (iceberg, Romaine, green leaf)
Season cherry tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and toss in a strainer or colander set over a bowl. Let drain for at least 20 minutes. Discard liquid in the bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork belly with salt and pepper and cook, flipping often, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Construct the sandwiches: Spread an even layer of mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide the lettuce, pork belly slices, and cherry tomatoes evenly on 4 of the slices, and then top each with a slice of bread, mayonnaise-side down. Serve.