Farm Ocean Tree
This recipe is featured in Headacre Farm
This is the dish that won us first place in the Farm-to-Table competition at the annual Harvest on the Harbor festival in Portland. Every ingredient we used was from Maine: pork belly from Terra Optima Farm in Rockland, clams from the local flats, apple cider from Sewall Orchard in Lincolnville, sea salt from Marshfield, and the best butter I’ve ever had from Casco Bay Butter. Everything else was grown right at Headacre Farm. A dish like this shows how a hardscrabble region can yield the most delicious bounty, if you’re willing to look for it. As you’ve probably gathered, I don’t fetishize regional authenticity in my cooking, but I do think there is something special about a meal comprised of ingredients grown within miles of one another. This one highlights the three pillars of Maine agriculture: the field, the orchard and the sea.
- Servings Serves 1 to 2
- 227 grams (8 ounces) pork belly
- Half an onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sea salt
- 177 ml (¾ cup) cider
- 100 grams (6 tablespoons) butter
- 5 leaves kale
- 2 sour apples, halved and cored
- 1 sprig thyme
- 6 littleneck clams, thoroughly washed
1. Heat a 15 cm (6 inch) heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork belly well on all sides and remove from the heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and cider to the skillet. Cover and return to the stove. Lower the heat to medium-low or low, to keep the contents below a boil. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the pork is fork-tender. You can do up to this point a day or two ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat your oven to 204ºC (400ºF).
3. Melt 28 grams (2 tablespoons) of the butter and liberally brush the kale with it. Set aside.
4. Remove the pork belly from the skillet (or refrigerator), reserving all the vegetables and liquid. Place the pork belly and apples (core side up) in a 23 cm (9 inch) oven-safe casserole dish or skillet. Evenly distribute the remaining 57 grams (4 tablespoons) of butter over the pork and inside the apples. Roast the pork and apples for 45 minutes, until the pork is thoroughly heated and the apples are soft and light brown.
5. Add the reserved liquid and vegetables to the casserole. Add the thyme sprig and submerge. Surround the pork with the clams. Cover the entire dish with the kale leaves. Return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the clams are fully open and the liquid is heated.
6. Serve to great acclaim.