Bucatini with Pork Belly, Watermelon, Green Coriander and Lemon
Chefs Evan and Sarah Rich
At Rich Table in San Francisco, chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich toss bucatini with some unexpected ingredients, including watermelon, pork belly and cilantro. It makes an unusual and tasty addition to the pasta lineup.
Pickled watermelon rind
8 oz. watermelon rind
1 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 lb. pork back bones
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
½ pig’s foot
Salt, to taste
12 oz. dried bucatini or linguine
1½ lb. pork belly, diced
1 red onion, diced
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lemon, halved
2 cups diced watermelon
Cilantro leaves and flowers
- For pickled watermelon rind,using a sharp vegetable peeler, remove and discard the outer green peel of the rind; dice the inner white portion to measure about 1⁄2 cup diced.
- In small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1⁄4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Add diced watermelon rind; reduce heat to medium and simmer just until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture come to room temperature. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate rind in its brine for at least 8 hours.
- For pork jus, preheat oven to 400 F. Spread pork bones out on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until deeply browned, about 1 hour.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 7 to 9 minutes.
- Add the roasted bones, pig’s foot and 5 quarts of water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and skim off any impurities. Partially cover the pot with a lid and continue to simmer for 18 hours.
- Strain the jus through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Pour the strained jus into a clean stockpot, place over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid simmer. Continue to simmer until the jus is reduced to about 8 cups, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bucatini and cook until not quite al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain immediately.
- In a large skillet, cover the pork belly with about 1⁄4 inch water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer until the water fully evaporates and the fat starts to render from the skin, about 20 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pork belly browns and crisps, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup pork jus and bring to a boil over high heat. Add cooked bucatini and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid forms a creamy sauce around the pasta. Add another 1 cup pork jus as needed to make the sauce.
- Remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. Squeeze lemon halves over the pasta and season with salt. Divide pasta among four serving plates or bowls. Garnish with diced fresh watermelon, pieces of pickled watermelon rind and cilantro leaves and flowers. Serve immediately.
Photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board