Within the canon of made-for-summer foods, there’s something exceptionally nostalgic about the category of meat-on-a-stick. But today, we’re going beyond ballpark corn dogs and talking about pork belly lollipops.
This fun and inventive dish comes from Rye, the restaurant and cocktail bar with locations in Dallas and McKinney. They’re no stranger to unique plates, with menu items like an Icelandic hot dog and a lox bagel featuring smoke-cured salmon and “lactic acid adjusted” mascarpone. But back to the lollipops. The pork belly is coated in dry rub, covered in bourbon and orange juice, and braised with onions, carrots, celery and clementines. Once ready, it’s served lollipop-style on a “plate” made from bourbon barrels and nails.
“This was our original item we created to let guests know, from dish one, that Rye was a different dining experience than what they were used to in our area,” says co-owner and creative director Tanner Agar. “The true inspiration was to set the tone for Rye, and pork belly seemed like the best vehicle for that.”
You should try this dish straight from the source sometime, but if you want to make it at home, Agar says to get the thickest slab of pork belly you can find.
“It’s best to work with a local farmer, if possible, but for the average person, an Asian market or Costco might be your best option for buying whole pork belly,” he adds. Once it’s cooked, make sure to take it out of the liquid and let it cool completely before cutting it. If it isn’t cool when you cut it, Agar says, it will tear. And no one wants that.
All that’s left is a good drink to enjoy with your lollipops. He has you covered there, too.
“Since it has bourbon and orange, an Old Fashioned would be a natural pairing for the dish,” he says. “I find it always tastes better when I’m cooking with an Old Fashioned in hand.”
Rye's Burnt Orange Bourbon-Braised Pork Belly Lollipops
For the dish:
- 1 pork belly
- 3 cups pork belly rub (see below)
- ½ gallon orange juice
- 1 white onion
- 2 carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 8 clementines
- 4 oz. bourbon
For the pork belly rub:
- 1 cup chili powder
- 5½ Tbsp. onion powder
- 2½ Tbsp. ground white pepper
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 1½ Tbsp. ground coffee
- Add the rub ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until combined. Score the fat side of the pork belly with a knife. Rub each side of the belly with 1½ cups of the rub. Halve clementines horizontally, and char on metal rack over open flame. Rough chop onion, carrot and celery, and place them in a four-inch hotel pan. Add charred clementines, skin side down.
- Place rubbed pork belly, scored side up, on top of the vegetables and clementines. Pour orange juice and bourbon over the pork belly. Cover with plastic wrap and foil. Braise at 350 degrees for four hours.
- When finished, remove the pork belly from the liquid to cool. Save clementines for plating.
- Once fully cooled, cut pork into lollipops, skewer and serve.
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