Belly Up!


As has been mentioned many times on this site, our favorite restaurant in the city is Marlow and Sons. We’ve had countless special meals there, and we have often been inspired to try our own spin on dishes from their menu. They’ve made it easier for us to try to duplicate their recipes by publishing them in the excellent Diner Journal (a quarterly publication put together by the folks behind the food at Marlow, Diner and the two Bonita locations), and dinner last night was pulled from the pages of the current issue.


We jokingly refer to Chef Caroline Fidanza as “the pork whisperer” because she has such a way with pork dishes, and her recipe for pork rillons did not disappoint. We originally had this at Marlow a few months back, and while Mike feels that his version needs a bit of tweaking, this is definitely a dish we’ll make again soon. The slab of belly we had weighed in at 1.7 pounds, so Mike used four cloves garlic and probably 10-15 sprigs of thyme; you’ll want to adjust the proportions in the recipe below to the size of the piece of belly you’re using. And don’t discard the fat that’s left after frying the rillons – slice up some potatoes, season with salt and pepper and fry them in the fat until they’re golden and crisp.

Dinner:  December 12, 2007

Pork Rillons with Salsa Verde
Recipe by Caroline Fidanza, Marlow and Sons/Diner
Published in the Winter 2007 issue of Diner Journal

3 lb. pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 small bunch thyme
8 cloves garlic
Red wine

Season the belly well with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan brown the cubed belly on all sides. You will probably need to do this in batches. Remove browned pork from the pan and place in a roasting pan. Add 1/3 wine, 2/3 water, enough to cover the rillons 2/3 of the way. Nestle the sprigs of thyme and halved cloves of garlic around the browned pork. Roast uncovered in a 350 degree oven, rotating the rillons as they cook. Essentially the water and wine will cook off and the rillons will confit in the fat that they render, turning brown and tender. This won’t take too long, about 45 minutes. Remove the rillons from the oven and drain off the liquid. Reserve this for cooking if you like.

salsa verde

To make the salsa verde:

1 bunch parsley, picked
1 bunch mint, picked
1 bunch cilantro, picked
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 fresh red chile or chile arbol to taste
1/2 cup cornichons, sliced
3 tablespoons capers
Extra virgin oil
Red wine vinegar

Mix the herbs with the chile, cornichons and capers. Season with olive oil, vinegar and salt.

Serve rillons on a platter with plenty of salsa verde on top.

7 thoughts on “Belly Up!

  1. I had the pleasure of eating these once at Tom Mylan’s place, who is now the butcher for Marlow and Sons/Diner/et al. When we arrived at his apartment, he had just finished searing the belly in his hood-less kitchen. As he answered the door, literal plumes of pork fat smoke started pouring out into the hallway. It was just hanging in the air, everywhere, and it took the rest of the night to clear out. But wow. They were among the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

    Here’s his side of the story:

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Blake! We heard about Tom’s new role for the restaurants the last time we had dinner there – very cool! The pork fat smoke story is hilarious – thanks for sharing it!

  3. With all the wonderful cooking smells that must routinely emanate from your apartment, why are neighbors not storming your door nightly, demanding to be fed? I know I would be.

  4. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, Terry. Honestly, I sometimes feel bad that our neighbors come home from work and are greeted with our mysterious cooking smells. We should probably invite them down more often. 🙂

  5. just the salsa verde alone sounds like it’d be wonderful on FISH. fishfishfish my new best ex ol’ friend. i like that combo….

    pork belly and fried potatoes. wowee zowie. sounds like a very special kinda dinner. i’ll bet it was UNFRIGGINREAL.

  6. Jennifer Hess says:

    claudia – it *is* wonderful on fish, particularly the meatier kinds like swordfish and halibut. And I’m so glad you’re finally getting to indulge in fish.

    The belly was amazing (and the potatoes weren’t bad, either – pork fat improves just about anything). Mike picked up two more bellies this morning, so you can be sure we’ll do this again very soon. 🙂

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