Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas!!


What do you get when you turn braised pork belly, Havarti cheese and pickled onions into a quesadlla? Mouth-watering ridiculousness, that's what you get.

I love the butcher case at Whole Foods for many reasons, but mostly because it always gives me lots of ideas - especially decadent ones. Sure enough, I was trolling their butcher case the other day and saw some beautiful pork belly. What to do with pork belly, you ask? Well, I came up with the psychotic idea to braise it and turn it into: Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas. Settle down now...

This recipe calls for braised pork belly, Havarti cheese and pickled onions all folded into a burrito-sized tortilla. Braising the pork is going to take 8 hours, so you can do that the day before you plan on making the quesadillas.  Refrigerate it once it's done, but save some of the braising liquid with it so that you can reheat it in the liquid the next day. However, if you want to make it the same day, you can set it up really early in the morning so that it will be ready later in the day when you're ready to assemble the quesadillas. Pickling the onions is real quick and can be done while the pork is cooking.

Let me tell you, the combination of pork, Havarti and pickled onions is sheer nirvana. The cider adds a little sweetness to the pork, while the mildness of the Havarti compliments the unctuousness of the meat. Then finally, the pickled onions brighten up the entire experience. It's going to make you weep with happiness. Trust me, I wept.

Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas
(serves 4-6)
Are you kidding me?

1 1/2 lbs pork belly
2 tsp canola oil
16-20 oz apple cider                                                                               1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.5 oz veal demi-glace (optional)
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 cup white vinegar
5 whole black peppercorns
1/2 lb Havarti cheese, sliced
2 burrito-sized tortillas


Braised Pork Belly:
       Cut the pork belly in half. Heat the 2 tsp of canola oil in a medium-sized sauté pan on medium heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Place in a 3-quart crock pot.  Pour enough cider to come up to 1/8” from the top of the pork. Don’t completely submerge the meat. Add the demi-glace (optional), garlic and bay leaf. Set on low and braise for 8 hours, turning every couple of hours. Remove from the braise and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the top layer of fat and discard. Shred with a fork.

Pickled Onions:
        Slice the onion. Place in a small sauce pan along with the peppercorns and cover with white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool in the vinegar.

Place 4 slices of the Havarti cheese on one half of each tortilla. You'll need to overlap the cheese to fit the one side of the tortilla. Top with the pickled onions (make sure to cover most of the cheese in a single layer). Divide the shredded pork between both tortillas. Fold the tortilla over to create a half moon.
Heat a cast iron pan or griddle and place the tortilla on the griddle on medium heat. Weigh the tortilla down with another pan. Let the tortilla crisp up (this should only take a little over a minute). Flip over and toast the other side. Remove from the pan and slice into 3 triangles each.
Place on a serving platter and enjoy!

And there you have it gang. This takes a little while to prepare, but trust me, you will be making this more than once. It's an entertaining keeper.

Until next week, I hope your teams are making you happy and keep on homegating!

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