Spring is here — almost — and so is the last of the winter produce. I’ve been enjoying this hearty but light-in-flavor dish for a month or so now — the fatty, crisped pork belly is fantastic against the sharp, floral Cara Cara oranges and soft orange yams (or sweet potatoes). The herbal earl grey vinaigrette complements it all perfectly.
The idea for the earl grey vinaigrette came about when I made the Sherlock & Watson cocktail for my book club’s New Year cocktail party — only it makes a lot of syrup, and even after a batch of ten cocktails, I was left with what we might call a “crap ton.” It’s good stirred into plain yogurt, but makes an even better dressing.
If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they offer fully cooked pork belly for $4.99 — all you have to do is crisp it in a frying pan until it has a nice golden crust on all sides.
Make the earl grey syrup first, then the dressing, and serve the salad with a cocktail or two.
EARL GREY VINAIGRETTE
- 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 3 tbsp earl grey honey syrup (recipe here)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
Shake in a jar or other tightly closed vessel until emulsified.
PORK BELLY, CARA CARA ORANGE, AND YAM SALAD
Serves two generously; four as a first course
- 1 large yam or sweet potato (or two medium, about 1.5 pound total)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Rosemary, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 12 oz cooked pork belly
- 2 Cara Cara oranges (blood oranges are a nice substitute, but any orange will do)
- 5-6 cups mixed spring greens
- Earl Grey vinaigrette (recipe above)
Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash and peel the yam/sweet potatoes, then cut into 1 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, chopped rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange on a nonstick baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned, checking around the 20 minute mark for doneness. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, crisp the pork belly in a very hot frying pan — about 4-5 minutes per side, making sure each side is thoroughly browned. If you don’t already have a pair of metal tongs, they are great for this task. Let cool slightly, then slice into 1/2 inch medallions.
Peel, divide, and chop the oranges into 1-inch sections. Toss the greens with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette, taking care not to over-dress, and adding more as needed. Salt and pepper the dressed greens to taste. Arrange the greens on each plate, then top with yams, oranges, and finally several slices of pork belly. Serve with a Sherlock & Watson cocktail.