We were challenged to come up with a dish that mixed a variety of spices with local honey, so I created this fantastic recipe for our recent Honey and Spice promotion. Fireweed is a flower that grows in forests that have recently experienced forest fires, hence the name. By using this honey in the recipe, a blend of salty, sweet and savory flavors are created. The smoky pork belly complements the sweet honey-butter infused with aromatic spices, resulting in a flavor explosion on your palate. Preparing the ingredients in advance helps make this sweet dish come together quickly.
To get started, ask your butcher to cut a nice three-pound piece of smoked pork belly. Then, collect all of the spices required, along with the fireweed honey, at your local grocery store.
3 pounds Alderwood smoked pork belly slab
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 1/2 pounds fireweed honey
1 1/4 cup water
1-pound unsalted butter
1/4 cup chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground star anise
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
Pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Score a diamond pattern about 1 inch apart into the pork belly slab with the tip of a sharp knife (to do this, cut a long strip from one side to the next, make a quarter turn and cut from one side to the next — being careful not to go too deep). The idea is to mark the top.
- Place sliced onions on the bottom of an ovenproof dish and place the pork belly on top. Pour enough hot water to cover halfway up the side of the pork belly and cover with aluminum foil. Bake the pork belly in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until pork belly is tender. When finished, remove from pan and let rest.
- While the pork belly is cooking, place the honey in a saucepan on medium-high heat and reduce for about 10 minutes (be careful not to scorch the honey).
- Remove the honey from the stovetop and slowly whisk in the 1 1/4 cup of water.
- Place the honey back on low heat and add the room temperature butter, whisking until combined.
- Combine all of the spices. Add to the honey-butter mixture and whisk until combined. Reserve the sauce at room temperature.
- To serve, slice the pork belly and generously ladle the spiced honey-butter over the pork.