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Pork belly in chilli-chocolate piloncillo sauce

"I borrowed this dish from chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo of Nicos in Mexico City," says Ward. "It was the first real inspiring taste I had of the depth and balance of Mexican food."

You'll need

2 onions, quartered 1 carrot, quartered 5 garlic cloves 1.2 kg piece boneless pork belly, skin scored Thinly sliced golden shallot (optional) and wilted spinach, to serve   Piloncillo sauce 30 gm blanched almonds 1 cinnamon quill 50 gm dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids) 30 gm raw sugar 40 gm piloncillo, shaved (see note) 2 pasilla chillies (see note) chipotle chillies (see note) dried ancho chillies (see note)


  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Place onion, carrot and garlic in a 21cm x 31cm x 5cm-deep roasting pan. Season pork all over with salt, rubbing generously into the skin, and place on top of vegetables. Pour water into pan to come just under halfway up sides of pork belly, cover dish with foil and braise until just cooked (1-1¼ hours). Remove foil, change oven setting to grill and grill until crackling forms (10-15 minutes; keep the pan on the middle shelf). Place pork on a tray, cover bottom and sides of pork (not crackling) with foil and set aside in a warm place to rest (15 minutes). Drain braising liquid (reserve 500ml) and set belly and liquid aside separately (discard vegetables).
  • 02
  • For piloncillo sauce, dry-toast almonds and cinnamon in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until toasted (5-6 minutes). Cool, then blend in a blender until finely chopped. Add chocolate, raw sugar and piloncillo, blend until a chunky, crumbly chocolate mass forms, then set aside. Combine reserved braising liquid and chillies in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and stir occasionally until chocolate melts, then simmer until thickened (5 minutes). Strain sauce through a sieve, pressing firmly on chillies to extract maximum flavour and heat (discard solids), then keep warm. The sauce should be spicy, sweet and chocolatey.
  • 03
  • Cut the pork into thick slices and serve with piloncillo sauce, shallot and wilted spinach.

Note Piloncillo, an unrefined cane sugar used in Mexican sweets, is available from Fireworks Foods; if it's unavailable, substitute jaggery or a medium-coloured palm sugar. Pasilla, chipotle, guajillo and ancho chillies are available from Monterey Mexican Foods.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

2010 Mairena Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina.

Featured in

Sep 2013

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