Although Peter Sanagan went to chef school and diligently worked his way up through the ranks of the Toronto restaurant world, he had to learn on his feet when it came time for him to open his butcher shop. Located in the heart of Kensington Market, Sanagan’s Meat Locker opened in 2009, the intent being to showcase the best meat and poultry in Ontario. “I wanted to have an environment where people like me could afford to shop. And as a cook, I wanted to sell things I would want to make at a restaurant or at home.” This bone-in pork belly is a great example. Inspired by a trip to an outdoor market in Lyon, France, Sanagan came home and concocted an unexpected recipe for a familiar cut, lovingly marinating, braising and grilling the meat to perfection, then serving it to his friends in his backyard, under the stars.
1 8-to-10-lb pork-belly slab from the shoulder end, with eight side ribs attached
6 to 8 tbsp kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
16 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 lemons zested and juiced
4 tbsp toasted fennel seeds
4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp dried chilli flakes (more if you want it spicy)
8 tbsp red pepper jelly, melted
Four days before serving, have your butcher score skin of pork belly in straight lines parallel to the rib bones. This will help when portioning belly later, and will help marinade penetrate the meat. Season belly all over with salt and pepper. Put all remaining ingredients except jelly in a food processor and pulse until puréed. Rub marinade all over pork belly, massaging well into meat. Place belly in a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for three days.
One day before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place belly in a roasting pan and add hot water about half way up. Cover pan and braise belly for about 3 hours, or until tender. (To test, stick a sharp knife in the centre of the roast – the meat should yield easily.) Remove lid and turn oven up to 475 degrees F. Cook at higher heat until skin puffs up and crackles – about 15 minutes longer. Remove belly from oven and let rest 1 hour before wrapping tightly in plastic and returning to refrigerator overnight.
About half an hour before serving, preheat grill to medium high. Unwrap belly and, using a sharp knife, cut between rib bones. You should have eight evenly sized belly chops. Place chops on grill and brush with red pepper jelly, cooking meat until hot in the center and nicely charred on all sides – 15-20 minutes. Serve on a big platter with lemon wedges.