For our fifth month of Bold Bites, where we feature some amazingly badass local dishes, we chose to highlight Marker 32’s Roasted Duroc Pork Belly. This thing is a prized cut of the pig, and after one bite, you’ll immediately know why. We spoke with chef Trey Hartinger to get all the juicy details on the dish. Be sure to check out even more awesome local grub on the Bold Bites Instagram page. Give them a follow and you’ll always be on the cutting edge of culinary delights in the 904. Dig in.
Why do you think people love the Roasted Duroc Pork Belly appetizer?
Pork belly has been in the limelight for foodies and cooks alike, increasingly, over the past 10 years or so. Pork belly is the literal cut of a pig, from its belly meat, behind the spare ribs and in front of the hind quarters. It’s prized mostly for its high fat content, and leverage on different textures. The pork belly can be cured, spiced and aged for pancetta. It can be cured, smoked and aged for bacon. It can be trussed with the skin on, stuffed and slow-roasted for porchetta. Or, it can be slow-roasted or braised for hours until it’s just tender enough to slice easily with a knife.
Where do the ingredients come from? Can you break it down item by item for us?
I don’t believe I have a particular geographic “flair” to my cooking. Adversely, I’ve never been an advocate for fusion cooking. So, when I was thinking of the plate as a whole, I thought, “this doesn’t really sound like YOU.” But, soon enough, after consulting with my sous chef, Casey Carpenter, we both decided it could be a very, very cool menu item.
The “chilaquiles” is a tongue-in-cheek variation of the traditional Mexican breakfast dish. Traditionally, fried corn tortillas are used and tossed in a red-almost enchilada style-sauce. There’s a couple of fried eggs served on top, with queso fresco, pico and crème. We, however, use wontons and fry them crispy. Casey makes a variation of the traditional red sauce, but also adds a bit of soy and sambal, contributing to the overall Asian flavor profile of the bite.
The collard green kimchi is something we’ve been doing for a while. We use napa cabbage, green cabbage and collard greens in about a 1:1:6 ratio. We dress the greens with typical kimchi aromatics and leave it to do its thing. It takes about 10 to 15 days to build the flavor and effervescence we like.
The belly itself, as I said earlier, is salt and sugar roasted, until tender, then sliced into portions. During service, we lightly broil the belly portion until it is well caramelized.
The cured egg yolk adds a bit to the tongue-in-cheek concept of the dish. We cure the egg yolks in salt and sugar for four days, then slowly dehydrate them in the oven. It then possesses a somewhat pliable, sliceable texture. It can also be grated and slowly melted on top of something hot. We cut the slices on the thick side, allowing for the egg to make it to the table as a garnish.
So, how did you come up with it? Describe the inspiration behind the Roasted Duroc Pork Belly appetizer.
I lived in San Diego for close to six years in the mid-2000s. I’ve eaten hundreds of Mexican breakfasts. I think I just missed it, and was planning on running a pork belly appetizer anyway. We had an abundance of kimchi and wontons, from other menu items, so the natural cross-utilization thoughts occurred. I asked Casey what he thought of a wonton chilaquiles, and about an hour later, the sauce was made and we were tasting and tweaking from then.