Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Ramps and Pork Caramel


Marc of No recipes was kind enough to share this picture with me. It’s one of the five dishes we made at Forage & Feast and one that received rave reviews from everyone. If you read Zested, Constables larder, No recipes or Lab 24/7you probably know all there is to know about this great foraging-cooking expedition we went on last week-end. If you don’t, i suggest you visit the blogs aforementioned for a detailed view and the complete menu of this fantastic cooking event organized by Marc of No Recipes and Jonathan of Lab 24/7. In short, the goal was to drive up to a park in Yonkers to pick ramps, fiddlehead ferns and stinging nettles in the wilderness and bring the fruit vegetable of our labor back to The Lab in Brooklyn to cook a 5 courses feast. I also wanted to kill a bear but i couldn’t find any. What a disappointment.

We came back to The Lab with our spring  bounty and we improvised, we made mistakes, we took risks, we drank, we drank again…  Ahh! those ramptinis. After a few of those you should have seen this bunch of cooking maniacs chopping, cleaning and chatting to the sound of reggae! Claire of Colloquial Cookin’, who is the embodiment of French glamour, was there to ensure no line of glamourism were crossed. She’s so efficient that by the end of the day everyone was completely fluent in French. Amazing! And she can cook too! Not your average Easter Sunday but definitely a great day for everyone.

Let’s zoom on this Braised Pork Belly with pickled ramps and pork caramel. I think it deserves a post of it’s own cuz it’s good… it’s real good. It started 48 hours before the show with a spice-cure to perfume (and cure) all this porky goodness. Then it was washed and slowly simmered in an aromatic broth for about 3 hours to a perfect pork-fork-tenderness and paired with sauteed ramps, sauteed morels, pickled ramps (that packed a punch) and brought full circle with what i like to call a pork caramel;  a caramel deglazed and reduced with the pickling juice from the ramps and the pork cooking liquid.

Liz of Zested shared the pictures of the pickled ramps with me.  Why didn’t i take my own pictures? Why did i have to beg to everyone? Well.. err.. their cameras were bigger than mine. I don’t want to be the one pointed at for having a small camera! It’s traumatizing!!


    • Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Ramps and Pork Caramel

    • Pickled ramp recipe adapted from Tom Colicchio’s”
      • Serves 6
      • For the spice-cured pork belly:
      • 3 whole star anise
      • 2 cinnamon sticks
      • 4 teaspoons black peppercorns
      • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
      • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
      • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
      • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
      • 3 pounds boneless pork belly
          • For the aromatic broth:
          • 2 celery stalks, chopped
          • 1 large carrot, chopped
          • 1 large onion, chopped
          • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley stems)
        For the pickled ramps:
      • 3 bunches of ramps, white parts only
      • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
      • 1 cup water
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
      • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
      • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
      • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
      • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
      • 2 bay leaves
      • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
      • Pork caramel:
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 1/2 cup ramp pickling juice (see above)
      • 1/2 cup pork cooking liquid (see above)
      • sea salt to taste
      • fresh chervil for garnish
      • Garnish and finishing:
      • 3 bunches ramps, cleaned
      • a dozen fresh morels, cleaned
      • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
      • 1 small shallot, chopped
      • extra virgin olive oil
      • salt and black pepper
      • For the spice-cured pork belly:
    • Put the star anise, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, and cloves in a skillet and toast until fragrant. Crush the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Stir the spices with the salt, sugar, and garlic.
    • Score the skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife. Rub the spice mixture on both sides. Put in a baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours.
For the pickled ramps:
  • While the pork belly is curing, clean ramps and separate white from green, reserve greens for another use.
  • Prepare brine, bringing vinegar, water, sugar, honey and salt to a boil for 1 minute. Add dried spices and bay leaves and boil for 1 minute.
  • Blanch ramp bottoms in heavily salted water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and cool quickly using ice and running cold water.
  • Pour brine over ramps and let sit for 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • For the aromatic broth:
    • When the pork belly is cured you are ready to proceed.
    • Scrap off the spice mixture from the pork belly and run it under cold water until clean.
    • Put the belly in a deep stockpot along with the celery, the carrot, the onion and the bouquet garni. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 hours, skimming off the fat that rises to the surface. The belly is done when fork-tender. Keep in cooking liquid until ready to use or refrigerate.
Pork caramel:
    • Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Make a caramel.
    • When the color turns deep mahogamy deglaze with pickling juice and pork stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a sauce consistency. Season with a pinch of sea salt. Keep warm.
Garnish and finishing:
  • Sautee the ramps in olive oil until the green leaves start to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sautee morels in olive oil, season with salt and butter. Finish with a touch of butter, chopped garlic and shallots.
  • Serve the pork belly warm, cut in nice big cubes on a bed of sauteed ramps and morels. Garnish with pickled ramps and chervil. Drizzle with pork caramel and a grind or two of black pepper. Enjoy!
Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

  • Mel @

    This sounds divine. I love the idea of the pork caramel.

  • Stacey Snacks

    There is a great restaurant in NJ (yes, there is ONE) called A Toute Heure. The chef has a new menu weekly, sort of a like Blue Hill concept.
    Farmers Market stuff.
    She did pickled ramps on eggs on toast this week for lunch! We loved it.
    Thought of you!

  • elra

    I can only imagine how delicious this braised pork is with all of those flavor from the spices. Delicious!

  • Ginny

    i had pork belly for the first time last week… sad, I know! It was great though! I should make it sometime! :)

  • Manggy

    Such a time-intensive dish, but totally worth it, I’m sure! Pork caramel is one of those word combinations you should hear of more often, hehe! :)

  • Nate


    I would like to include your recipe in our “Grow Your Own” roundup this month! For information on how to enter, please go to

    Aloha, Nate

  • Cynthia

    Sounds like y’all had a blast.

  • Marc @ NoRecipes

    I still have dreams about that pork. It really was THAT good. Although now that I have the whole stash of smoked pork belly home I’m wondering how this would have tasted with smoked pork. BBQ + pickles is a natural combo so I’m thinking braised them smoked pork belly with pickles would be mind-blowing.

  • Irene

    I just found your blog – I love it!

  • RecipeGirl

    I can’t even imagine making this dish myself, but I certainly can imagine eating it! Everything about it sounds wonderful. I always wondered what I would do with ramps if I had them!

  • claudia (cook eat FRET)

    not that old same dish again
    i make that every tuesday. so you know, tuesday is pork night and this is in my regular rotation.

  • Colloquial Cook

    The glamour police has just given its stamp of approval for that post. Consider yourself lucky.


  • we are never full

    we were sad we couldn’t join you all at this. but porky caramel sauce looks amazing and i think i’d even put it on my ice cream. you guys make a great team – this dish is almost intimidating! great job.

  • Giff

    Damn you for reminding me of a dish I never got to taste! That Sunday was a blast, and it was fun to work in a kitchen with you, Claire, Marc, Liz, Liz and Jonathon.

    Bear? Just be glad we didn’t catch other Yonkers “wildlife” 😉

  • Emily

    Wow! Look at this new blog! Looks fantastic.

  • thecatskillkiwi

    one word… YUM!

  • clumbsycookie

    Can I go next time? I could take ice creams and sing. Ok maybe just the ice creams..

  • matt wright

    Lovely stuff. Pork belly is fantastic, and I love seeing it served with pickled what-nots. Looks modern, clean and simple. fantastic.

  • Jeremy

    Good work! Bears, really now…aren’t ramps the best!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    Mmmm…pork belly. I’m still thinking about how much I need to try ramps. I’d go foraging, but I have no idea what I’d be looking for.

    If you want a bear, there are plenty of them in the woods behind the stable where I ride in Sussex NJ. They’re considered a nuisance to the locals, so no one will mind if you pick off one or two.

  • mlle noëlle of simmer down

    I’d like to know more about how to find ramps- do you think they grow in MI? When I lived in France I went to a ramps festival once, but sadly I don’t think I’ve eaten them since. I have eaten dandelion greens out of my backyard, but that is about the extent of my foraging :)

  • Pingback: Stuffed Zucchinis with Pork, Ramp Greens, Asiago, Crème Fraîche and Lemon Zest — Constables Larder()

  • Tartelette

    Love the new blog and design!
    Marc sent me some ramps over the weekend and they made it intact! Woohoo!
    I was thinking of preparing them like “poireaux vinaigrette”. I miss those terribly.

  • Pingback: Pork Pastries with Pickled Onions, or The Stuffed Cabbage That Kept On Giving — Constables Larder()

  • helen

    Love it! Quite frankly, you had me at pork caramel. Perhaps I can make just that and sop it up with bread!

  • Pingback: Forage & Feast, the sequel — Constables Larder()

  • Pingback: Photos: Ramp Pickle — Constables Larder()