22nd May 2016
Raw Belly Pork in Thai Chilli Sauce

Cauliflower Celery Bake with Thai Chilli Belly Pork
Yet Another Celery Cauliflower Combo.
Funny I keep coming back to these flavours - probably because it's hard to think of things to do with the rest of that whole head of celery, when you only needed 3 sticks. Quite why I always seem to have a cauliflower to hand in such circumstances escapes me.

As a part of my emptying the fridge and freezer project, since small boats don't have freezers, I found a fortuitous way to combine a very old jar of homemade Thai Chilli Sauce and some frozen belly pork.
It turned out less burnt than it looks, though I did overcook it.

You can eat these two dishes together, as photographs do testify, but I don't particularly recommend it.

Belly Pork in Thai Chilli Sauce
Moo Adovada
main meat crockpot
I based this on Carne Adovada except using Thai chilli sauce as the base, though it's not too dissimilar to a Southern Thai Stewed Belly Pork (Moo Hong (หมูฮ้อง)). Perhaps I should have called it Carne Hong? Or Moo Adovada?
Yep, definitely the Moo thing.

Now, to marinate or not to marinate?
To sear or not to sear?
Why not have both? Brown the pieces of belly pork first, allow to cool, then marinate.
Then casserole.

Hmmm, on second thoughts - what would that achieve? The point of marinating is to tenderize the meat before cooking, so there doesn't seem much point tenderizing after it's been (partially) cooked?
I know, I'll try some pieces of both - but cut differently, the seared ones bias-sliced like lozenges instead of cubes, so I can compare them when eating.
And the result?
Well, I think I should probably have braised the pork for less time - I left it in the slow-cooker on low for a full 12 hours and the meat was a bit on the stringy side. I then cooked it for another day, by which time the meat was a little more tender, but had less taste. I see that Moo Hong recipes only cook for an hour or so.
And the lozenge chunks? The pieces seared then marinated were possibly darker-looking, but were definitely no improvement on those I simply marinated.
Oh, and do par-cook the beans first before adding them, lest they turn out like bullets.

Cut the pork belly into decent (1½") chunks. Smear well with the Thai chilli sauce and leave to marinate in a dish or freezer bag for a day or two.

Soak a handful of black (or pinto!) beans overnight. Rinse well, then simmer in a little water or stock until tender but not collapsing.
Set aside.

Put the pork belly and Thai chilli sauce marinade into a slow cooker. Add a few splashes of rice wine to lubricate (use it to rinse out the marinade dish). Add the beans and a few whole, peeled garlic cloves.
Turn on and braise for 2-4 hours until tender.
Well, I didn't try adding any dumplings or any of the other options, though I think they could have worked well. Perhaps flavoured with coriander, or Thai basil?
Otherwise eat with rice or couscous.

Cauliflower and Celery Bake
veg side
Wondering what to do with that leftover head of celery (minus the three stalks)?

Serves 4

Cut the cauliflower into florets, not too large, and chop the celery into fat slices.
Heat a generous amount of butter in a large pan over fairly high heat and throw in the cauliflower florets. Fry until they take on some colour, then add the garlic cloves and shake around. Then add the celery pieces and shake around. Fry until the celery starts to break down a little, then de-glaze the pan with Ricard if using, season, add the yoghurt, cover tightly and cook over very low heat until everything is cooked and softened.
Set aside.

Prepare the breadcrumbs: process or grate the bread, mince the garlic, onion and herbs and melt the butter. Mix everything except the butter then drizzle in the butter, stirring the breadcrumbs until they begin to clump together. (This will take quite a lot of butter).

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
Scoop the cauliflower/celery mix into an ovenproof dish. Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the contents are heated through.
Interesting. It ends up a bit watery though.
I'm not quite sure about the combination of Ricard and yoghurt flavours. It's not bad, but definitely odd. Might be a good idea to try this with one or the other instead of both?

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