Navy veteran and Food Network Allstar, August Dannehl cooks a four course meal for his fellow vets based on stories from their service. A braised pork belly inspired by the MRE's feared dehydrated pork product, Chicken Tagine inspired by a training mission in Morocco - these elements provide the backdrop for a holiday celebration between veterans.
When vet comic James P. Connolly (host of WATM's "Vet on the Streets" series) was in the Marine Corps, he experienced a rawer version of the MRE. Without pomp and frills, many of the early MREs contained something called Dehydrated Pork Product. The only solution to this madness was the tiny Tabasco sauce bottle slipped into the box.
Braised Pork Belly with Cipollini Jam and Tabasco Caramel
Inspired by James' memory of the early MRE with ''Dehydrated Pork Product"
2 lb pork belly
2 cups cola
2 cups beer
1/2 cup soy sauce(low salt)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup ginger (thinly sliced)
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion (diced)
2 large carrots (diced)
2 strips bacon
1 lb cipollini onions (sliced)
1 cup cola
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tb butter
1/4 tabasco sauce
2 tb agave syrup
2 tsp xanthan gum
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
scallions (chopped) for garnish
Prepare the pork belly by scoring the skin crossways and placing in a large plastic bag with ginger, 2 cloves garlic, soy sauce and brown sugar. Seal bag and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan and add cipollini to sweat. Once translucent, about 3-5 minutes, add cola and vinegar, reduce heat to lowest possible and reduce until the consistency of thick jam.
Meanwhile, heat tabasco, agave syrup and butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Once heated, add xanthan gum and stir until tabasco separates into thick caramel-like syrup.
Preheat oven to 300°. Render bacon in large, oven-safe pan over medium heat, add onion, the rest of the garlic, carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Raise temperature of pan to high and add a tb or so of olive oil to pan. Add pork belly mixture, starting skin side down and let cook for 3 mins of each side.
Add cola and beer and let cook for 10 minutes. Once liquid is reduced by 1/4 place entire pan in oven and let braise for 2 hours covered then 1 hour uncovered until the meat is very tender.
To serve heat skin of belly with kitchen torch(or broiler) for 2 mins to crisp skin and serve with tabasco caramel and cipollini jam.
Music courtesy of Jingle Punks:
Dramatic Classical Hip Hop - Trent Williamson
Thug Piano-JP - Pailboy