Luscious Hefeweizen Braised Pork Belly, Brie Mac Cheese, Cilantro Glazed Carrots, More than 'Meat and Potatoes'

Following in footsteps of cowboy classic dinner of New Mexico Red Chile and Coffee Crust Tri-Tip from  Meat and PotatoesSimple Recipes that Sizzle and Sear (Clarkson Potter, July 2014) by Rahm Fama, here's a beer soaked dish.

Hefeweizen Braised Pork Belly with Brie Mac And Cheese and Cilantro-Glazed Carrots

Serves 6

Pork belly is uncured, unsmoked bacon. No wonder. It’s unctuous, flavorful, and very easy to cook. Don’t be put off by the amount of pork needed; the meat shrinks dramatically as it cooks. Be sure to use a cast-iron skillet to sear it first so the little bits of crusty pork left in the skillet can be made into the luscious sauce with Hefeweizen (a wheat beer). It packs a spicy, citrusy kick and cooks into a lovely glaze for this tender cut. The mac and cheese is surprisingly delicate and a cinch to whip up, perfect with the light, bright glazed carrots.

Hefeweizen Braised Pork Belly

 4 pounds pork belly
 ½ cup chopped white onion
 ½ cup chopped carrot
 ½ cup chopped celery
 2 12-ounce bottles Hefeweizen beer
 1 cup chicken stock
 1 bay leaf
 1 sprig fresh thyme
 Peel and juice of 1 orange
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 220°F.

2. Set a cast-iron skillet or large heavy sauté pan over high heat and sear the pork, fat side down, for 5 minutes, then flip and sear the second side for 5 minutes, creating a thick brown crust on both sides. Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside.

3. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden brown. Stir in the beer, scraping all the dark nubs off the bottom of the pan, then stir in the stock. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and orange peel and juice.

4. Put the pork belly in a roasting pan. Add the vegetables with the cooking liquid. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap with aluminum foil. Braise in the oven for 3 hours.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Peel off the foil and plastic wrap and set the pork belly aside.

6. Place the pan on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Using a ladle or wide spoon, scoop out and discard any fat that has collected at the corner of the pan. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the liquid by half. Season with salt and pepper.

7. To serve, cut the pork into 6 squares and drizzle with the sauce. Pass the additional sauce at the table.

Brie Mac and Cheese

 1 teaspoon salt
 1 pound elbow pasta
 3 cups whole milk
 1 white onion, chopped
 1 teaspoon whole cloves
 ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
 6 ounces sourdough bread, sliced and toasted
 5 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
 ¼ cup chopped scallions, both white and green parts, for garnish

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the salt and the pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Put the milk, onion, cloves, and nutmeg in a large saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the stove and set aside for 15 minutes to allow the ingredients to steep.

3. Strain out and discard the onion and cloves and pour the milk into a blender. Cut or tear the bread into pieces and add to the milk. Puree the bread and milk into a creamy slurry.

4. Put the cooked pasta in a large pot, add the milk-bread slurry, and set over medium-low heat. Slowly whisk in the Brie, one piece at a time. Serve garnished with the chopped scallions.

Cilantro-Glazed Carrots

 1 pound baby carrots
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 2 tablespoons honey
 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the carrots in a medium saucepan with water to just cover. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender-crisp. Remove and drain.

2. Add the olive oil and honey to the saucepan, set over medium-high heat, and cook for 1 minute, or until the honey begins to brown.

3. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and toss in the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

(* Reproduced with permission from Meat and Potatoes, Simple Recipes that Sizzle and Sear by Rahm Fama in collaboration with Beth Dooley-published by Clarkson Potter,July 2014- Photography by Jennifer May...Thanks to Blogging for Books for Review Copy)

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