Belly Up

Pork belly and crêpes go hand in hand

Javier Plascencia, the chef-owner of Tijuana's new Mision 19, opened the restaurant's doors with the mission of reviving both Tijuana's food scene and the city itself. He describes his cuisine as "Baja Med," a blend of the area's local ingredients with classic Mediterranean recipes. In his take on the classic Spanish roast suckling pig, Plascencia blends piloncillo (unrefined brown sugar) with cinnamon, anise and coriander that he rubs into a slab of pork belly. As it roasts, the sugar and spices caramelize the skin with a crispy tier of spiced sugar. Eat the slices doused with fiery habanero salsa and wrapped in warm corn crêpes.

Adapted from Javier Plascencia at Mision 19, Tijana, Mexico

Pork Belly With Corn Crêpes (Asado De Cochinillo)
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In his take on the classic Spanish roast suckling pig, chef Javier Plascencia blends piloncillo (unrefined brown sugar) with cinnamon, anise and coriander that he rubs into a slab of pork belly.
Servings
6
servings
Ingredients
  • Pork Belly
  • 2 ounces piloncillo, finely grated (or ¼ cup dark-brown sugar)
  • 2¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2¼ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 slab (about 2 pounds) pork belly
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked peppercorns
  • Coarse sea salt
  •  
  • Corn Crêpes
  • ¾ cup fresh masa (available at Latin markets) or make your own with masa flour, following the directions on the label
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup habanero salsa
Directions
  1. In a bowl, stir the piloncillo with the cinnamon, coriander and anise seeds.
  2. Lay the pork, skin-side up, on a platter and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle the peppercorns and salt all over and press into the pork belly. Rub the piloncillo mixture all over the belly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 225°. Place the pork belly on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, uncovered, for 4 to 5 hours until the crust is caramelized and the pork is very tender. Remove from the oven, carefully drain the fat from the baking sheet, cover with tinfoil and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the crêpes, combine the masa and egg in the bowl of a blender. Turn the machine on to medium speed and gradually add the milk, blending until combined. Add the butter and salt and pulse until smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  5. Lightly coat the bottom of a small, nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rested batter, swirling to coat the pan with a thin layer of batter. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, turn the crêpe over and cook until it's lightly browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining oil and batter.
  6. Cut the pork belly crosswise into 1-inch slices. To serve, spoon some of the salsa onto a crêpe and top with a few pork belly slices.
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