By Luke Gelman
No great story started with someone making a salad … except this one.
I was pretty shocked when I learned I won February’s Manbque, because I really wasn’t expecting to. After all, I had brought a SALAD to ManBQue! I did call the salad a slaw a number of times, attempting to distract people from the fact that it was actually salad. Yet here we are. A salad won ManBQue and also on an unrelated note, I am 100% Mario Cart Ruler of the Universe. Both things are completely true.
A fellow ManBQue guy brought this down on everyone by challenging me to make salad at the most heat-heavy meal of the month. This started me down the path to creating the GREATEST SALAD KNOWN TO MANKIND. It’s fairly easy if you have a sous vide. And it’s really good to have the best equipment if the point you’re starting from is salad.
This is definitely a do ahead kinda deal but completely worth it. If you have friends, this will impress them. If you have to make a salad, make this.
2 pounds pork belly, skin removed and portioned into two 4″-wide pieces
2/3 cup peach preserves (good stuff – go kidnap someone’s MawMaw from Georgia)
1 cup strong coffee
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stemmed, halved, and cut into 1/8″ strips
1 large bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed (about 5 cups), cut into 1/4″ ribbons
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Hours in advance, fill the sous vide vessel to the fill line with water and set the circulation temperature to 160F.
2. Combine the coffee, honey, preserves, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring often, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until it reaches a thick syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and add the red pepper flake and salt to taste. Let cool.
3. Generously cover your pork belly on all sides with the kosher salt. Put your pork belly into your zip-top or vacuum bag.
4. Divide the cooled sauce and pour it over the pork belly in your bags. Seal your bags (use a zip-top if your sealer can’t handle that much liquid.
5. Place your pork belly bags into the water bath for 24 hours. Make sure it’s completely submerged.
Pork will return, after these salad messages …
6. Toss the kale and Brussels sprouts together with the Parmesan and cranberries.
7. Make the dressing: combine the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, Dijon, and lemon juice, whisking to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
8. Add the almonds and dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly.
We now return to Pork, already in progress …
9. Remove the pork from the water bath. Carefully open the bags and pour the juices into a sauce pan. Make sure not to wipe off any excess sauce.
10. Bring the reserved juices to a boil in the pan, reduce the heat to medium, simmer for about 10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy again.
11. Grill (or broil 3-5″ from the element) the pork belly, on high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the top is crisp and browned. Remove and glaze the pork with the reduced sauce. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
12. Slice the pork into 1/2″ slices and lay over the salad.