In the made-for-summer food canon, there’s something exceptionally nostalgic about the category of meat on a stick. But today, we’re moving beyond rough corn dogs and talking about pork belly popsicles.
This fun and inventive dish comes from Rye, the restaurant and cocktail bar with locations in Dallas and McKinney. They’re no stranger to unique plates, with menu items like an Icelandic hot dog and bagel lox with smoked salmon and “lactic acid adjusted” mascarpone. But back to lollipops. The pork belly is coated in a dry marinade, topped with bourbon and orange juice, and braised with onions, carrots, celery, and clementines. Once ready, it is served in the shape of a lollipop on a “plate” made of bourbon barrels and nails.
“This was our original item that we created to let guests know from the first course that rye was a different dining experience than they were used to in our area,” says co-owner and creative director Tanner Agar . “The real inspiration was setting the tone for Rye, and pork belly seemed like the best vehicle for that.”
You should try this dish straight from the source once in a while, but if you want to make it at home, Agar says to get the thickest slice of pork belly you can find.
“It’s best to work with a local farmer, if possible, but for the average person, an Asian market or Costco might be your best bet for buying whole pork belly,” he adds. Once cooked, be sure to remove it from the liquid and let it cool completely before cutting it. If it is not fresh when you cut it, Hagar said, it will tear. And nobody wants that.
There is only one good drink left to enjoy with your lollipops. He’s got you covered there too.
“Since it contains bourbon and orange, an Old Fashioned would be a natural pairing for the dish,” he says. “I find it’s always better when I’m cooking with an Old Fashioned in my hand.”
Rye’s Burnt Orange Bourbon Braised Pork Belly Pops
For the dish:
- 1 pork belly
- 3 cups pork belly rub (see below)
- ½ gallon of orange juice
- 1 white onion
- 2 carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 8 clementines
- 4 oz. Bourbon
For the pork belly rub:
- 1 cup chili powder
- 5½ tsp. onion powder
- 2½ tsp. ground white pepper
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 1½ tsp. ground coffee
- Add the rub ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until combined. Slash the fatty side of the pork belly with a knife. Rub each side of belly with 1 ½ cups of rub. Cut the clementines in half horizontally and grill them on a wire rack over an open flame. Roughly chop the onion, carrot, and celery and place them in a four-inch hotel casserole. Add the charred clementines, skin side down.
- Place the rubbed pork belly, cut side up, over the vegetables and clementines. Pour the orange juice and bourbon over the pork belly. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Braise at 350 degrees for four hours.
- When you’re done, remove the pork belly from the liquid to cool. Save the clementines for dressing.
- Once completely cooled, cut the pork into lollypops, prick and serve.
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