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All We Can Eat
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/13/2012

Cooking Off the Cuff: ’Nduja in my belly

Returning to those ’nduja-filled faux cinnamon buns I made a while back, or rather to the ’nduja itself, let me offer another suggestion for using that chili-pork spread: as an instant stuffing-cum-seasoning for a piece of meat.

A few weeks ago, I bought a whole pork belly from my favorite farmers (Flying Pigs Farm from up near Saratoga Springs, N.Y.). It was an imposing thing to slam onto the cutting board, I can tell you. Imposing, but not all that difficult to deal with, as there are few anatomical complications to get in the way of tidy butchering, even for an amateur.
Starting point: Pork belly from Flying Pigs Farm in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Edward Schneider for The Washington Post)

Phase two: Rolled and braised, with shallot, red peppers, wine and stock. (Edward Schneider for The Washington Post)
I ground some of it (and most of its skin) to combine with pork shoulder for a batch of cotechino sausages; I froze some for subsequent roasting or slow-cooking; and I set aside one thin little piece to roll up and braise for dinner that night.

Rather than devising, say, an herb-spice-garlic-oil-salt-pepper mixture to rub into it before rolling, I simply smeared one side of the meat with soft, spicy, spread and tied it into a little cylinder (’nduja side in) before seasoning, browning and braising it over low heat in a covered straight-sided saute pan with a shallot, red peppers (a sweet echo of the hot chilies in the ’nduja), white wine and a splash of whatever stock I had in the fridge; it was chicken as it happened, but meat or vegetable would have been fine as well. If I hadn’t had any stock, I would have used water (perhaps along with port wine) and the outcome would have been hardly less delicious. Every now and again, I turned the meat and added a couple of tablespoons more stock.

After about 90 minutes, the pork belly was nice and tender and prettily glazed from the reduced juices. I could have cooked it for another half hour; it just would have been even softer. The ’nduja filling lived up to its promise. It enhanced every bite (the dish was perfect with mashed potatoes).

This notion is by no means limited to pork or to braising. It would be terrific with lamb (in fact, I’d use the equivalent cut: boneless breast of lamb), and it would work beautifully with meats for roasting.
At the plate: Tender meat, enhanced by the ‘nduja from within. (Edward Schneider for The Washington Post)

By Edward Schneider  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/13/2012

Categories:  All We Can Eat, Recipes | Tags:  Cooking Off the Cuff, Edward Schneider

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