Mâche Salad with Pork Belly Lardons, Crispy Capers, Pine Nuts, and Plum Agrodolce Dressing
This salad from Rosalia Barron pairs juicy plums with a sweet-and-sour dressing and salty capers, building complex layers of flavor and texture.
Pork Belly Lardons:
- 1 head garlic
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground bay leaf
- 1 pound pork belly
- 8 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 3 cups water
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
Plum Agrodolce Dressing:
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon diced shallots
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Riesling wine
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1/2 tablespoon plum wine
- 5 fresh plums, pitted and chopped, divided
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Salt, white pepper, and sugar to taste
- 24 capers
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch Wondra flour (a quick-mixing flour ideal for breading)
- White pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
- 6 cups mâche lettuce
- 1 plum, pitted and sliced
Make the pork belly lardons: preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the top off the garlic head and place it on a piece of foil. Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, wrap it in the foil, and roast in the oven until soft and fragrant, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and let cool.
When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze all of the cloves out of their skins and into a mixing bowl. Add the paprika and bay leaf; mix until a smooth paste has formed. Rub the pork belly with the mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the celery, carrots, and onions in a large Dutch oven. Add the water and place the pork belly on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Place the Dutch oven, uncovered, in the oven. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 325ºF. Cover and cook until the pork is tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour. Remove the pork from the pot and slice into 1/3-inch pieces. Dice into cubes.
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the pork belly and sauté until crunchy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Make the plum agrodolce dressing: heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the Riesling, raisins, and plum wine; simmer for 3 minutes. Add half of the plums and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; add the vinegar and thyme leaves. While the mixture is still warm, transfer it to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add salt, white pepper, and sugar to taste. Fold in the remaining plums and keep at room temperature until serving.
Make the crispy capers: rinse, drain, and pat dry the capers. In a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, Wondra flour, and white pepper. Dredge the capers in the flour mixture. Add the vegetable oil to a sauté pan over high heat. Fry the capers until golden and crispy, about 1 minute. Remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
Add the pine nuts to a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are evenly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
To serve, divide the mâche among plates. Top with the pork belly lardons. Drizzle with plum agrodolce dressing. Finish with capers, pine nuts, and plum slices.