Grand Cru Gruyère Reserve Croque Madame with Soy-braised Pork Belly
For the Soy-braised Pork Belly:
In a bowl, combine the salt, sugar, crystallized ginger, 2 tablespoons of the Chinese five spice, and 1 tablespoon of the dried Thai chili. Rub the pork belly with the spice mixture and cure it overnight. The next day, rinse off the mixture and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 275°F. In a bowl, combine the onion, ginger, star anise, the remaining tablespoon of Chinese five spice, the remaining tablespoon of dried Thai chili, the soy sauce, mirin, chicken stock, and Chinese black vinegar. Braise the pork belly in this mixture in a covered pan for 3 to 4 hours until tender.
Remove the pork belly from the oven and let cool. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, slice the Soy-braised Pork Belly, reserving the braising liquid. In a saucepan, reduce the braising liquid to a glaze.
For the Mornay Sauce:
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the shredded Gruyère cheese. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
For the Black Garlic-Mustard Aioli:
In a blender, combine the black garlic, Chinese mustard, and the mayonnaise. Purée the ingredients until smooth.
To Assemble and Serve:
Spread 2 pieces of brioche with the Mornay Sauce, then the sliced Gruyère cheese. Broil the slices of brioche, face up, until the cheese has melted. Put 1 slice of Soy-braised Pork Belly onto the bottom slice of brioche. In a hot pan, melt the butter, and then add the brioche bread topped with the pork belly. Top the pork belly with more Gruyère, and add the top slice of toasted brioche. Press down and reserve in a warm oven while you cook the sunny side up quail egg. Remove the sandwich from the oven, top with the quail egg, and dot with the Black Garlic-Mustard Aïoli.