The black garlic that is used in this vinaigrette is traditional whole garlic that’s undergone a fermentation process, resulting in a milder, sweeter flavor and dramatic-looking cloves.
Grilled Pork Belly with Razor Clams and Black Garlic Vinaigrette
For brining the pork
- 3 lb. fresh pork belly, in one piece, skin on if available
- 12-oz. can Narragansett beer, or other lager
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 3 juniper berries
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- A pinch of white peppercorns
For braising the pork
- 1 leek, halved lengthwise and trimmed
- 1 small white onion, halved
- 2 carrots, halved lengthwise
- 1-1/2 cups chicken broth; more as needed
For the black garlic vinaigrette
- 5 cloves black garlic (can be purchased at Asian markets; use roasted garlic if you can’t find it)
- 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- Pinch of chopped fresh herb, such as thyme, rosemary, or sage
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Cracked white or black pepper to taste
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbs. canola oil
- 16 fresh razor clams (or substitute littleneck clams)
- 8 small fresh chiles, such as Fresno. roasted or grilled, not peeled, for garnish (optional)
Brine the pork
- In a 3-quart pot, add 2 cups cool water, the beer, brown sugar, salt, juniper berries, rosemary, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, and then immediately turn off the heat. Allow the brine to cool completely; this is very important. The brine must be cool to the touch.
- Once the brine is cool, transfer to a large nonreactive container or bowl, and then completely submerge the pork belly in the brine. Place a small plate or bowl on top of it to weigh it down if necessary. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Braise the pork
- On the morning of the next day, heat the oven to 300°F and remove the pork from the brine. Rinse it, pat it dry, and set it aside. Discard the brine. If the belly still has the skin on, carefully score the skin with a sharp knife, in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut the meat.
- Put the leek, onion, and carrots on the bottom of a small roasting pan or baking dish (just big enough to fit the pork). Pour in the broth so that it comes about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pan.
- Gently nestle the pork belly on top of the vegetables. Cover the roasting pan with a layer of parchment and then a layer of aluminum foil. Put the pan in the oven and cook until fork tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
While the pork is cooking, make the vinaigrette
- Put the black garlic, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, herbs, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and cracked white or black pepper to taste into a food processor. Turn on the processor and slowly drizzle in the cup of canola oil to emulsify and make a thick vinaigrette. Set aside.
- When the pork is tender, remove it from the oven and unwrap it carefully to avoid the steam. Using two spatulas, carefully transfer the meat to a rimmed baking sheet, cover with a fresh piece of parchment and press under the weight of another pan. Allow to cool to room temperature this way, about 2 hours.
Grill the pork and clams
- Heat a gas or charcoal fire grill to medium heat. Once the pork belly is cool, rub with the remaining 1 Tbs. canola oil. Grill the pork, turning once, until the outside is charred, about 2 minutes a side. Simultaneously, place the razor clams or other clams directly on the grill. As they open, 2 to 3 minutes, move them to a cooler spot of the grill so you don’t overcook them.
- Remove the charred pork from the grill to rest and place the cooked clams in a nonreactive bowl. Slice the pork belly into 8 thick portions. Place on a platter surrounded by the clams. Drizzle the black garlic vinaigrette over all and garnish with the Fresno chiles, if using.