I’ve been playing around with the SousVide Supreme and pork is one of my favourite proteins to cook sous vide. Some of the most delicious parts of the pig are the toughest to eat, so it requires slow and low cooking techniques to break down the fat and collagen.
I decided to courageously attempt some recipes from Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide with my friend @mightyvanilla. We started with the Salmon Poached in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with caramelized fennel, citrus and shaved fennel & beet salad, and then moved onto the heavier protein – pork belly.
The original recipe calls for an entire baby pig and features 5 parts of it using the sous vide technique. Not being Thomas Keller, we just went with the pork belly and then I also changed the sides around a bit.
The ingredients can be a bit harder to source and I wanted to work with the season. The pork was from Two Rivers Specialty Meats which features all natural and sustainable meats in North Vancouver. Your dish will only get as good as your ingredients, so start from the right sources.
The pork belly comes out incredibly tender and it doesn’t even require any gravy. The flavours were simple and I recommend using a high quality pork because you’re not seasoning it too much with this recipe. The highlight is the natural flavour of the pork and it really showcases the pros to cooking sous vide.
The “potato mille-feille” was basically scalloped potatoes and I found the recipe a bit lengthy for a result that tasted quite standard. They were good, but I’d take the idea and run with it. I added crispy wafers of sweet feuilletine on top for texture. It’s usually used for desserts, but it worked here.
The rutabaga and pear mostarda was a modern version of the traditional Italian condiment. This worked well with the pork, but I added pears because I missed having some sort of fruit in my spicy and sweet mostarda. Pears and pork isn’t far fetched from apples and pork, so this flavour profile worked beautifully.
The following is just a rough guideline and personal moderation of the original recipe. It looks complicated, but it wasn’t that bad and you can’t mess up the cooking when you’re letting the machine do the hard work.
Photo credit: Cliff Hammerschmidt
Rutabaga & Pear Mostarda
1. Brine the pork belly overnight. Vacuum pack the pork belly and brining liquid on medium.
2. Cook sous-vide at 82.2°C (180°F) for 12 hours. Yes, I know 12 hours is a long time, but the result is worth it and the aromatics infuse into every crevice of the pork belly. Allow the pork belly to chill and trim any fat. Slice the pork belly and sautee pieces in a pan with butter to reheat before serving.
3. Wash and peel the potatoes, rutabaga and pears (I actually left the skins on for my pears).
5. Vacuum seal the rutabaga and cook at 85ºC (185°F) for 2 hours.
6. Drain and reserve the liquid in the bag. Reduce part of this liquid in a sauce pan over high heat until it becomes a thick syrupy glaze.
7. Use the remaining part of the reserved rutabaga brine for the pears. Add spices and thyme and vacuum seal all the ingredients. Cook at 85ºC (185°F) for 2 hours.
8. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes into long thin strips (1/8 of an inch thick).
9. Line baking pan with parchment paper and brush the bottom of the terrine mould with clarified butter.
12. Unmold the mille-feuille and slice into 1¼ inch pieces. Melt butter in a pan and sear off each side until reheated and crispy. Serve.
Find the complete and original version of Thomas Keller’s recipe in Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide
On the table:
The pork belly is incredibly moist and succulent after being sous vide for 12 hours. The rotabaga and pears are also very tender and infused with all the spices. It does not even require any additional gravy or sauce, but if you want to make one you can use the leftover aromatics and liquids from the sous vide pork belly as a base.