Mercat a la Planxa's Chef de Cuisine Cory Morris, a participant in this year's Meals on Wheels Chicago Celebrity Chef Ball, shares a recipe from his fall menu that pays tribute to his Ong.
Braised pork belly and pocha bean stew with fried oysters.
Among the dishes on Mercat a la Planxa's fall menu, there's one that really hits home. First, who doesn't love surf and turf when it's braised pork belly with fried oysters? But second, the Mar I Muntanya dish has a backstory that many of us can relate to. “[This] dish is in tribute to Tam Nguyen or Ong, my fiancée's grandpa who inspires me every day to live life to the fullest," Chef de Cuisine Cory Morris tells us. "Despite being 89, Ong continues to stay active through gardening, fishing, and generally being a role model to his family through his loving care for those around him. I see the way he cares for his garden, and I try to bring that same care and attention to all the produce I bring into Mercat."
On Friday, November 7, Morris will again honor Ong by participating in the Celebrity Chef Ball, an event that raises more than $200,000 annually for the Meals on Wheels Chicago delivery program. "I know that my participation helps raise money for a great organization that works to take care of our community members," Morris says. "It is important to understand that while Ong is lucky enough to live with family that helps care for him every day, that is not always the case with other seniors."
Here, Morris shares the recipe for Mar I Muntanya, which made it onto the Mercat menu simply because his in-laws loved it.
Mar I Muntanya Braised pork belly and pocha bean stew with fried oysters. SERVES 4
1 lb. sous vide short ribs
8 oz. pocha bean stew
For the braised pork belly:
1 lb. pork belly, fat and sinew removed
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 star anise pod
1 canella stick
½ tsp black peppercorns
7 thyme sprigs (5 sprigs picked and chopped; 2 whole)
1 rosemary sprig (½ sprig picked and chopped; ½ sprig whole)
2 garlic cloves, peeled (1 chopped; 1 crushed)
1 shallot, peeled and crushed
1 medium cryovac bag
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup dried pocha beans
5 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 cup tomato paste
3 gallon pork stock (store bought chicken stock can be substituted)
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced celery
Place canella, star anise, black peppercorns, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a spice mill and grind into a fine powder. To this mixture, add the chopped thyme, chopped rosemary, and chopped garlic. Season pork belly heavily with this mixture and place in a shallow pan or dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 12 hours.
Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a braising pan over medium heat. Brush excess spice mixture off of the pork belly and sear in the pan until evenly browned on all sides (remove from pan to cool). Deglaze pan with white wine and add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook vegetables until tender. Add stock, pocha beans, tomato paste, quartered tomatoes, and pork belly. Bring to a simmer, then cover with tin foil and cook at 375 degrees F for 3 ½ hours. Let the cooked pork belly cool in the braising liquid so it can absorb the braising liquid.
For the fried oysters:
8 oysters, shucked and marinated in buttermilk
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp mild smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Mix all dry ingredients together in stainless steel mixing bowl. When you are ready to fry remove the oysters from the buttermilk and dredge in cornstarch mixture. Fry oysters 1-2 minutes in a deep fryer at 365 degrees F or until crispy.
To assemble the dish:
Remove the pork belly from the braising liquid and cut into desired portion size. Sear the pork belly over medium heat on all sides until crispy. Add the pocha bean braising liquid "stew" and bring to a simmer. Once the pocha bean stew has reduced to your desired consistency you can fry the oysters.
Begin by plating the pork belly with the pocha bean stew and garnish with crispy fried oysters.