Braised Pork Belly with Mussels and Kale

Fried pork with shellfish is a way of life in Portugal. This riff uses kale, garlic and dried chilies to punch up succulent pork belly and fresh mussels.
Photo By Con Poulos / Food Styling by Hadas Smirnof

Courtesy George Mendes, chef/owner, Aldea and Lupulo, New York City

This satisfying riff on carne de porco à Alentejana, a popular dish of fried pork and clams, has many signature Portuguese ingredients: pork, shellfish, kale, garlic, bay leaves and dried chilies. Broccoli flowers are often available in farmer’s markets. You can substitute any herb flower for them, or just leave them out.

Four Fresh Takes on Portuguese Cooking
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 1½ pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 24 mussels, washed and debearded
  • 2 cups kale leaves, washed and de-ribbed
  • ¼ cup broccoli flowers
  • Bread, for serving
Directions

Heat oven to 300°F. Warm heavy ovenproof pot on stove over medium heat, and coat bottom with olive oil. Season pork belly on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear pork belly on both sides until dark brown. Transfer to plate, and drain excess fat from pan, leaving a thin coating. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and paprika and cook another 2 minutes. Deglaze with ½ cup white wine.

Add pork belly, herbs and just enough stock to cover pork. Bring to boil. Cover pot, and place in oven. Cook for 2–3 hours, or until pork belly can be easily pierced with knife. Remove pork belly from pot, and keep warm in a 250°F oven.

Strain cooking liquid, discarding vegetables and herbs. Place broth back into pot, and cook over medium heat. Meanwhile, place mussels in large pot with remaining white wine. Cover, and cook over medium heat until the mussels have steamed open, about 15 minutes. Remove mussels and add pork-cooking liquid to pot. Reduce sauce by approximately three-quarters. Add salt, to taste.
In medium-sized pot or skillet, cook kale leaves in ½ cup olive oil until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Distribute kale among 4 plates. Slice pork belly into four even pieces, and place atop kale. Top each plate with steamed mussels and broccoli flowers (if using). Spoon cooking broth over top, and serve with bread for sopping up broth. Serves 4.

Pair It

Quinta de Sant’Ana 2013 Tinto (Lisboa). A blend of Touriga Nacional, Merlot and Aragonêz (a k a Tempranillo), the grapes are crushed by foot in stone vats (or lagares) before resting 12 months in French oak. It’s a finely textured wine, with fresh red-berry fruit and enough acidity to lift the richness of the pork and sauce.

Published on September 22, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net



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