I feel like I’m always in the in-between these days.
In between unpacking and repacking a suitcase- I love it, I really love it. In between New Orleans and Philadelphia- Also love that… a whole lot with my heart. In between coffee and lunch but thinking about dinner. In between Snapchat and Instagram. In between wet dish hands and trying to wrangle something hot from the oven (that’s a tricky one). In between salty and savory and always trying to smash them into one dang thing.
This dish is in between a side-dish and a main. In between sweet and savory. In between lunch and dinner but all the way delicious. It’s inspired by Nigel Slater who I’m pretty sure does everything deliciously. He says we should combine fruit and nuts with our pork belly so we’re doing it… come on with it!
We’re layering flavors, starting here and now with a cinnamon stick and a well-worn baking sheet.
Get some pork belly, a strip that we’ll cut into chunks and roast with fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.
Plums if you can find some sweet gems in season. Fuyu persimmons would also be fantastic. I think ripe pear would also be fantastic. (This is a Nigel Slater recipe and I suggest these alternate fruits knowing that he might throw fruit at me for altering his vision and genius.)
Pistachios and sesame seeds for… added decor (definitely) and fancy flavor, too.
Basmati Rice cooked with cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorn. Spicy and hardly subtle and entirely delicious.
Layered and sizzled together. This is GOOD GOOD.
Pork belly is sliced into cubes and drizzled with olive oil. The pork has plenty of fat… we all know that’s true. But if Nigel says to add some extra olive oil… well I don’t need much coaxing. I’m not scared.
Fennel seeds to coat the pork belly. Toasted, fragrant, and flavorful.
A good pinch of sea salt, a few very strong pinches of fresh cracked black pepper.
Tossed to coat, plus a whole garlic head also drizzled with olive oil and seasoned.
The pork belly will crisp to golden and tender, and the garlic will soften to buttery smooth. It’s like magic what happens in the oven!
While the pork and garlic cook, the spiced rice is simmered.
Basmati is a tender and fluffy long-grain rice. The addition of bay and cinnamon and cloves makes the rice irresistible. It’s seriously so good!
Also, The Kitchn has some important tips on How To Make Perfect Basmati Rice.
Time to assemble. Gather all the fruits and flavors!
Crisp pork is cooled enough to handle and coarsely chop.
We’ll keep it all on the sheet tray because we’re not done sizzling the whole mixture… but not before squeezing out the softened garlic.
Spiced rice is added!
(I removed the whole cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.)
Get those pistachios going. We did!
Plums in the mix.
Toss together coating every which thing in spices and bacon fat.
Sprinkled with sesame seeds and returned to the broiler oven to sizzle, brown, toast, and melt the flavors.
Serve toasted warm and GAH IT’S SO DELICIOUS.
Sweet and savory, meaty with fruit. I’m tellin’ you… that space between is a little big of food magic.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless pork belly
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 ripe plums, ripe persimmons, or ripe pears
- 1/2 cup roasted salted and shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
For the Rice
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 of a cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 6 whole peppercorns
- sea salt
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Slice pork belly into 3/4-inch thick chunks. I just layed the pork belly out into a horizontal strip and sliced into vertical 3/4-inch thick chunks.
- Place pork belly on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Toss lightly to coat. Slice the top off a head of garlic. Rub the top on a bit of the olive oil from the pan and nestle it in with the seasoned pork belly.
- Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, tossing twice during bacon to brown and crisp on all sides.
- To make the rice, first rinse rice through a fine mesh strainer for a few minutes. Give it a good shake then add to a small saucepan with water , bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, and peppercorns. Add a big pinch of sea salt.
- Bring to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat but don’t remove the lid. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves.
- Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.
- Drain much of the bacon grease from the pan. Tear or coarsely chop the crisp, cooked pork. Return to the rimmed pan.
- Toss with plums (or whatever fruit you’re using), squeeze the softened garlic from it’s head, toss in pistachios and sesame seeds. Toss to incorporate.
- Heat the oven to broil and broil the mixture to sizzling and browned.
- Enjoy warm and store any extra in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Serving Size: 4