Pork Belly & Clam Toast

This is a play on a classic Clam Chowder.  Crispy pork belly, steamed clams, cream "chowder" sauce, and chives on top of bread griddled in pork fat.  The pork belly takes a total of three days- it's worth it.

yields 2 toasts, plus extra pork belly

Pork Belly:

  • 1 lb. pork belly, trimmed with skin on
  • 1/2 C kosher salt
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 t cracked black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion

Combine salt, sugar and black pepper.  Completely coat pork belly in mixture.  On a small tray, place a piece of parchment paper, followed by pork, then another piece of parchment, finally another small try.  Place pork belly and trays in fridge; place a few canned goods or other heavy items on top tray to compress the belly.  After 24 hours, remove belly from fridge, rinse and pat dry.  Place a fresh piece of parchment on small tray, set pork belly on top.  Place belly in fridge, uncovered, for 24 hours.  Preheat oven to 300°F.  Remove belly from fridge and and pat dry.  Using a sharp knife, score the skin in a 1/4" diamond pattern- careful not to cut into the layer of fat directly below the skin.  Roughly chop onion and place in a small roasting pan; the onion will act as the roasting grate for the pork.  Place pork on onion, skin-side up, and put in oven.  Roast belly for 3-4 hours (time varies depending on your oven) or until fat has rendered.  Remove pork from oven, increase oven to 450°F.  Place pork back in oven and roast until skin is crispy; careful not to burn.  Set pork aside, and reserve rendered pork fat in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Steamed Clams:

  • 18 ct littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 C water

In large skillet, add water and clams.  Cover with lid and heat at high.  Steam just until clams open, about 5-6 minutes.  Set clams aside and reserve clam juice for clam sauce.

"Chowder" Sauce: 

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 2 C reserved clam juice
  • white wine
  • 1/3 C cream
  • worcestershire sauce

Add butter to sauce pan at medium-high heat.  Allow butter to melt, add flour and whisk until incorporated and cooked through, creating a roux.  Add a splash of white wine and whisk for about 30 seconds.  Add clam juice, one cup at a time, whisking to incorporate.  Reduce heat to low.  While whisking, slowly stream in cream.  Add one dash of worcestershire, whisk.  Increase heat to medium, whisking occasionaly, until sauce reduces and thickens.

Plating:

  • 1 T reserved pork fat
  • 2 1" slices of bread from a French Boule
  • chives minced

Add about 1 T of reserved pork fat to a cast iron skillet- bring heat up to medium high.  Place both slices of boule in pan, and toast on both sides.  Place toast on serving plate.  Laddle some of the "chowder" sauce on and around the toast.  Cut some of the pork belly into 1/2" squares (about 5 or 6 pieces depending on preference), place on and around toast.  Place clams on toast.  Top with minced chives.

Pairing:

beer: An American porter works well here.  The roasted malt amplifies the char of the pork belly and toast, while the slight salinity of the clams cuts right in.  Some beers to look for: DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter, Hill Farmstead Everett, or Maine Beer Co. King Titus.

cocktail: Black Walnut Old Fashioned