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News Bulletin

January 03, 2007

Crisp Cider-Cured North Carolina Pork Belly

Recipe contributed by Gene Briggs, Executive Chef
Blue Restaurant & Bar, Charlotte, N.C.

Ingredients:
1 quart apple cider
1 apple, quartered
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 T. black peppercorns
2 pounds pork belly (fresh uncured bacon)
1 quart chicken stock
French Green Lentils (recipe follows)
Apple-Onion Relish (recipe follows)

Preparation:
Combine first seven ingredients in large saucepan. Heat to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour over pork belly in non-reactive pan. Cover and refrigerate 36-48 hours. Remove from marinade, discarding marinade.

Put pork belly and chicken stock in large ovenproof pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Bake, covered, in preheated 325вк oven about 2 hours, or until tender. Remove pork from stock and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare lentils and relish.

French Green Lentils
2 T. vegetable oil
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups green lentils, uncooked
1 sprig thyme
3 cups chicken stock

Heat oil in large pot. Add carrot, onion, celery and garlic; cook and stir until just tender. Stir in lentils, thyme and stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender

Apple-Onion Relish
1 red onion, peeled
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 T. mixed pickling spice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup salt
3 Granny Smith apples, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 T. olive oil

Halve onion, then slice into 1/4-inch slices. Combine vinegar, pickling spice, sugar and salt in non-reactive pan; bring to a boil. Let cool slightly. Add onion slices. Cover and let stand at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Remove onion slices; discard pickling brine. Chop onion. Combine onion, apples and parsley; toss to mix. Add oil; toss to mix.

To serve, cut pork into 1-ounce slices. Sear in skillet until crispy. Place warm lentils on serving plate; place piece of pork on lentils and top with 1 teaspoon relish.

Makes 4 servings.