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by on December 16th, 2009

Roasted Parsnip Bisque with Crispy Pork Belly

What is a parsnip anyway?  And do you know what pork belly is???

Our second course in our “American Tasting Feast” menu after Thanksgiving.

According to “cookthink.com” — “A parsnip is a pale, homely and under-loved root vegetable that looks something like an anemic carrot. Parsnips have a slightly sweet flavor that peaks during the fall and winter.”

A parsnip can be baked, mashed, steamed, sauteed, or boiled. They have a stronger flavor than the carrot and in ancient times were believed to be an aphrodisiacs. You should read up on the lowly parsnip and you may find other recipes that are delicious as this soup and also my Winter White Vegetable Soup.

I don’t think I had ever tasted a parsnip before making the Winter White Vegetable Soup. I just knew I needed every white vegetable I could think of and this one was on my list.

This soup was a joint endeavor.  My friend Peggy did the soup and I prepared the crispy pork belly. This was the second course in our  menu which if you haven’t seen the menu, it is here.

1soup

Now, for the pork belly.  Pork belly is meat derived from the belly of a pig. It is pretty popular in Chinese and Korean cuisine. BUT, growing up we had something we called “fresh side pork” or “fresh bacon” and I was surprised to discover it is one and the same. It has a delicious taste. Unlike bacon, it isn’t smoked so it doesn’t have a smoky or salty taste at all.  The process for doing the pork belly was quite lengthy. First it had to be brined for 24 hours and then it was suppose to bake for 24 hours.  Instead, I baked for 5 hours on low temperature, then cut it into cubes and fried it for a garnish for the soup.

 IMG_0294

I made two trips to the Asian market in one day and it was a 35 minute trip each way. On the first trip I bought my little Asian soup spoons we used for our Lemon Basil Sorbet. After I got back home, unable to find pork belly, I Googled to see what pork belly was and realized that I  bought this  previously from the same market to slice and serve as bacon. So I made the trip again.

brine

The star anise there was $1 a bag. What a steal! I had lemon grass and bay leaves  growing in my back yard to go in the brine.

2soup 

Roasted Parsnip Bisque with Crispy Pork Belly

1 c. chicken Stock
2 tsp. butter, unsalted
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/4 Tbsp. onions, chopped
1 c. parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 sprigs thyme, fresh
1 small bay leaf
4 stalks parsley
1/3  c. celery
2 1/2 tsp. white wine, boiled
1/2 c.  chicken stock
1 1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
Fresh snipped chives

Bring chicken stock and milk to a boil. In another pan, sweat the onions, celery, and garlic together with the 2 teaspoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Add parsnips and cook until soft and lightly colored. Add in the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, wine, chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the parsnips are cooked, about 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf. Blend and strain or pass through a chinois, correct the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with some crispy pork belly cubes and fresh snipped chives.

 
Brined Pork Belly
1 1/4 lbs. of pork belly
12 c.  water
1 cup table salt
1/2 stalk lemongrass
1/2 head garlic
1 1/2 sprigs rosemary
1 stick cinnamon
1/3 bunch thyme
4 bay leaves
4-5 star anise
3 Tbsp. coriander seed
1 Tbsp. ginger (or use 4 Tbsp. fresh ginger)

Mix all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool before use. Cover the pork belly with the brine. Brine the pork belly for 24 hours. Remove from brine and rinse. In a pan, cover the pork belly with cool water. Cover with foil. Cook for 24 hours at 325°. (this is the party I ignored and cooked at 250° for about 5 hours). Once cooked, press and refrigerate overnight. Next day, cut the pork belly into small cubes and fry them until golden brown and crispy.  **Note, I think the next time, I may brine but after brining just cut up and fry.

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