My take on JSix’s braised pork belly with stone fruit mostarda is comfort food to the max! Enjoy with some indulgent potato puree for a cozy night in.
My husband and I love visiting San Diego; being a native there, I make sure we go every chance we get. To celebrate our second anniversary, and my husband’s birthday, we took a short vacation to the land of perfect weather. Before leaving, I had told one of my chefs of our travel plans and he insisted we stop by this restaurant in downtown called JSix because he knew a guy (of course he knew a guy). So we made reservations and we stopped by on our vacation.
This restaurant was nothing short of amazing, it might have helped that we had an in with the head chef there that showered us with amazing food. Out of the 6 courses we had, my husband and I only picked one course. Now, because I have a strong case of mom brain and the fact this trip was about 3 years ago, I don’t remember every single dish we had. I do know, though, that it was all amazing! Of their dishes was the braised pork belly with stone fruit mostarda.
A little bit of a back story to this particular dish, I had to excuse myself from the table halfway through the meal and before this plate of delicious glory came to us. While I was away, my husband (who isn’t a huge fan of fatty meats), took a small bit of the pork belly and the sauce and thought to himself oooooohhhhhh…. Marlee is going to love this. I came back to the table and he said “you won’t believe this pork belly.” I put a forkful in my mouth and melted in my chair. As the pork belly meat melted in my mouth, I became one with my chair. It was nothing short of amazing and now I’m sharing my take of this special dish with you.
Pork belly is the same cut of meat that bacon comes from. It has a thick fat cap, along with layers of meat and fat. It’s phenomenal when cooked right and nothing short of a fat kid miracle. The trick to making pork belly the best it can absolutely be is to braise the belly low and slow for hours. I score the top of the fat cap to allow all of the flavor from plenty of seasoning to tenderize and develop the flavor of the meat. The broth that this belly is braised in helps to flavor the meat well and to keep it moist. Mmmmmm pork belly.
I have always told people that my most absolute favorite season of the year is summer. I love the foods that ripen this time of year, and stone fruits are no exception. They have bright colors and firm flesh that make it ideal for this mostarda. They also have a ton of juices in them which adds a whole other flavor component to this sauce. I love typing up my aromatics in a baggy of cheesecloth and tying it up with some butchers twine so I can easily take it out when the sauce is done cooking.
What is a mostarda? A mostarda is a fruity sauce with a mustard component in it. In order to achieve this, I simply pickled yellow mustard seeds (to soften them) for a few days, drained them, and then added the seeds to the stone fruit. Incredible.
In order to really get the full flavor of the braised pork belly, I baked the cooked belly with the finished mostarda in a stainless steel pan. This allowed the sauce to really reduce and caramelize on the braised pork belly, which made it sticky and super delicious. Cut the pork belly into even sized portions and sear the fat cap. Cover with the mostarda and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. This is absolute perfection.
With summer winding down, be sure to take advantage of the last harvests of stone fruits! If you would like to make this dish during the winter or other times of the year when stone fruits aren’t available, a lovely apple mostarda would definitely rock my world!
Please enjoy and let me know how you like it!
- 2 # pork belly scored
- 1 shallot rough chop
- 4 cloves garlic rough chop
- 1 carrot peeled and rough chop
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 star anise
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup apple juice
- 4 ounces yellow mustard seeds
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup distilled vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3 each red plums sliced 1/2” thick
- 2 each yellow peaches sliced ½” thick
- 3 each apricots sliced ½” thick
- 2 each nectarines sliced ½” thick
- 1/3 cup pickled mustard seeds drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 pint reserved pork belly braising liquid.
- 2 # braised pork belly
- 4 cups stone fruit mostarda
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bring a large, oven-safe, skillet to heat over a medium-high heat burner and cover the bottom in a light layer of olive oil.
Sear the pork belly on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a plate to rest.
Saute the carrots, shallot, and garlic until translucent. Add the rest of the aromatics to the pan. Place the pork belly in the pan as well and deglaze the pan with the apple juice.
Cover the skillet with plastic wrap, to create a seal for the juices to steam. Then cover the plastic wrap with foil. Braise in the oven for about 3-4 hours, until the belly is tender.
Remove the belly from the braise and let cool. Strain the braising liquid and discard the aromatics.
Bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to boil.
Pour over mustard seeds in a shatter-proof container. Cover with lid and allow to sit out at room temperature for 2 days.
Add stone fruit and honey to a large sauce pot. Sauté until juices begin to release.
Add aromatics, in a cheesecloth baggy, to the stone fruit.
As the stone fruit beings to cook and juices become thick, add a little of the braising liquid to the mostarda. Stir and reduce.
Drain and rinse the pickled yellow mustard seeds and add them to the mostarda. Mix until combined.
Cut the pork belly into 4 even sized portions. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
Warm some oil in the pan and place the pork belly in the pan, fat cap down. Render the fat for about 5 minutes.
Spoon over the pork some of the mostarda and turn off the stove heat. Place in the oven, uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce becomes sticky.
Remove from oven and enjoy.
I like to braise my pork belly one day before serving so that the fat re solidifies and is able to render without creating a mess.