1 2½- to 3-pound slab pork belly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup maple sugar or brown sugar, or as needed to coat
2 sweet yellow onions, cut large dice
4 carrots, cut large dice
2 stalks celery, cut large dice
1 small leek, cut large dice
4 quarts chicken or beef stock, heated
2 cups white wine, preferably off-dry Riesling
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 sprigs thyme
2 cups dried sour cherries
¼ cup cognac
3 tablespoons olive oil, warmed
½ cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon brown mustard
½ teaspoon quatre épices
½ cup muscavado sugar
¾ cup Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon minced ginger
2 bunches golf ball-sized turnips, greens attached
3 tablespoons butter
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons maple sugar
shallots, thinly sliced
½ cup good quality Sherry vinegar
1 cup maple or brown sugar, heated in a sauce pan
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 to 8 toasted bread slices, cut into 3-inch squares
For the Pork Belly:
Cut a fine cross-hatch pattern across just the surface of the fattier side of the belly, about 1/16-inch deep. Generously season both sides of the belly with salt and pepper. Rub in and massage the belly. Heat a pan to nearly smoking and sear belly in the pan until a good color is achieved on both sides. Remove the meat to rest, but do not wash the pan.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. When the belly is cool enough to the touch, rub in the maple or brown sugar. In the same pan that the belly was seared in, cook the onions, carrots, celery, and leek until some color is achieved, about 5 minutes on fairly high heat. In a pan that is at least 4 inches deep, combine the cooked mirepoix, stock, wine, garlic, thyme, and seasoned pork belly. Make sure the liquid comes above the pork. If not, add a little water. Check the liquid for seasoning. It should have some salt to it, but not too much. Add as needed.
Cover the belly with a piece of parchment paper to seal in the steam, covering with aluminum foil for a tight seal. Cook the belly in the oven until totally tender, and easily pierced with no resistance, about 3 to 4 hours. When the belly is done, uncover it, but allow it to cool in its own liquid. When it is cool, pull the belly from the liquid and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, take the pork belly out of the fridge and cut into 3-inch squares. You will probably have 6 to 8 squares, plus some scraps that can be used for seasoning other things. Set the portioned pork aside and leave out at room temperature. Warm the braising liquid and taste it. Reduce it over medium-high heat, continually tasting for salt. Strain and keep hot.
For the Sour Cherry Chutney:
Rehydrate the sour cherries in the Cognac, and add enough hot water to cover. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the shallots, and sweat until translucent. Add the mustards and quatre épices and fry over medium heat. Add the sugar and melt. Add the vinegar and allow to bubble. Add ginger and the cherries in their liquid. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Adjust salt and seasoning.
For the Turnips:
Separate the turnips from their greens. Quarter the turnips and roughly chop the turnip greens. Keep the two separate. In a sauté pan, add the butter, turnips, a pinch of salt, and the maple sugar. Over a high heat, sear turnips until lightly caramelized. Add the turnip greens at the last second and cook quickly. Check for tenderness and salt. Both the turnips and the greens should remain slightly textured, not soft.
For the Fried Shallots:
In a small deep fryer or large pot, preheat the olive oil to 375°F. Deep fry the shallots until crisp. Be careful, as they burn easily and will carry over and darken slightly. Season. You will need ½ cup finished fried shallots.
For the Maple Glaze:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Warm the Sherry vinegar and sugar together in a saucepan to produce a glaze. In a cast iron or heavy duty, oven-proof sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high-heat. Put the pork, meatier side down, in the pan. As the pork begins to warm, brush generously with the glaze. Remove the pan from the range and put in the oven.
To Assemble and Serve:
While the Pork is glazing, lightly brush the toasts with butter. Put the toasts in shallow individual serving bowls, and when the belly is heated all the way through, put a piece of Pork Belly on each of the toasts. Ladle a little braising liquid over the Belly. Finish the plate with Sour Cherry Chutney, Turnips, and Fried Shallots.