Coffee & Honey Braised Pork Belly

Some time ago had the great fortune of writing for Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine. Not only did it lead to a variety of interesting research projects on the culinary roots of Louisiana and its inhabitants (perfect for this nerd), but it was also a fantastic kitchen challenge. I had fun developing recipes with simple ingredients such as peppers and citrus, but was also challenged by coffee based recipes. As an avid and rather aggressive anti-coffee partisan, I do not have a whole lot of experience with the little beans. The bitter, jitter inducing juice does not agree with me or my hubby.

However, while I draw the line at a morning cup of Joe, I was looking forward to the challenge of incorporating the unmistakable flavor into my cooking.

Coffee based desserts, in the form of ice cream, panna cotta, crème brûlée and the like, came rather easily. The savory dishes were more of a challenge.

After much brainstorming and experimenting, this fantastic dish made its way onto our stove. With it’s rich, caramel tones this braised pork melts in your mouth. It is the perfect dish for the upcoming, cooler months of fall. Just be sure to give yourself some time to patiently work up an appetite and watch over the preparation.

If you feel like putting the work in a little goes a long way and this gut busting dish is definitely something you will want to share.

Coffee & Honey Braised Pork Belly (serves 4)

1.5 lb pork belly
1 large white onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped into ¼” pieces
4 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup Whiskey
½ cup water + 1 tbsp instant espresso
½ cup dark honey
10 sprigs thyme
1 tsp anise seeds
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Salt and pepper the pork belly on both sides and let the meat come to room temperature.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil until almost smoking. Add the pork belly and cook, flipping once until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Pour all but 1 tbsp of fat off and add the espresso and whiskey. Let cook until alcohol evaporates, about 2 minutes. The alcohol may ignite, so be cautious. Add the honey and cook until fully dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour over pork.

Wipe out any debris from the pot and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Cook the onion, garlic, and carrots until soft and beginning to golden, about 8 minutes. Add the pork and juice and then add the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, anise seed and 2 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 3 hours on low, stirring and turning every 45 minutes. The broth should cook down and thicken into a deep amber glaze.

When the pork belly is tender and easy to pull apart, remove from the heat and set aside. If your sauce is not to your desired thickness turn heat up and cook down until further thickened. When ready slice the pork and spoon sauce over.