Braised Pork Belly, Pappardelle Pasta, Truffled White Bean Puree

This dish is very rich and very earthy. Some people balk at the term “pork belly”, I think not realizing that pork belly is essentially bacon. For bacon, pork belly is cured, smoked, hung, sliced and cooked. This pork belly is simply braised for several hours until fork tender. The difference between bacon and pork belly is the difference between pastrami and pot roast. Like a Thai lady I used to work with used to say: “same-same”.

The pappardelle noodle is cooked, then seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then sprinkled with shaved parmesan-reggiano. It’s then rolled up and picked, to be reheated in the steamer with a little chicken stock to keep it from drying out. I like this preparation…it’s difficult sometimes to present pasta tastefully on a composed plate. This presentation accomplishes that and brings the pork off the plate as well.

The truffled white bean puree anchors everything and keeps the servers from having to come back to the kitchen with a disheveled dish. This is the preparation for the truffled white bean puree:
• 1/3 cup dried white beans, picked over and soaked
• 2 ounces white onion, diced
• 2 quarts chicken stock
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• white truffle oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• kosher salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs, parsley or chives or both

Add the white beans, garlic and onion to the chicken stock. Cook for approximately one hour, or until the beans are tender. Transfer the contents of the sauce pot to a blender and blend thoroughly, until completely smooth. Then place the puree in a sauté pan over medium heat and reduce while stirring constantly. When the desired consistency has been reached, season to taste with salt, pepper, white truffle oil and garnish with fresh herbs.

The garnish for this plate is micro arugula, crisp Shiitake mushrooms and freshly shaved parmesan-reggiano, along with a couple drops of truffle oil and a reduction of the pork braising liquid.

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