(Chicago) -  Braising does wonders on the food. Also called as pot roasting, it is simmering meat or vegetable over low heat for a long period of time. And the outcome is a deeply flavored fork tender meat. But the basic element of this method is time and for busy working people like most of us, we don’t have 3 hours free time to prepare a dinner. If you have some patience, you can braise a few days before or there’s always the weekend to do all the cooking.

My second favorite meat of all time, next to lamb, is pork belly. The layers of fats make this meat perfect for braising. Simmering over time, the fats will melt and get absorbed by the meat together with the braising liquid. And the resulting meat: luscious!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds pork belly, one slab cut into fourths
  • 3 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 750ml bottle red wine
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3-4 carrot, cut in chunks
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 10 juniper berries (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F.

Using a Dutch oven or cast-iron deep pan, heat the oil over high heat. Sear the pork pieces on each side until brown. Work in batches. If you don’t have cast iron pan, any large oven-proof sauce pan will be good. Transfer browned pork to a plate.

Spoon out and reduce the amount of oil in the pan. Saute onions and carrots for 3 minutes. Pour wine and scrap the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover and put the pan inside the oven.  Braise for 2 hours. Check every now and then to ensure mixture does not dry up.

Remove pan from oven. Take the pork out to a plate. Strain the remaining mixture over bowl to separate the solid. Bring back the liquid back to the pan and reduce over high heat for 10-15 minutes or until thickens.  Separate the carrots from the solid residue and discard the rest.

Slice the pork, rest over a starchy side dish, drizzle with the reduced red wine sauce and put some carrots on the side. I love using polenta together with any braised meat.