In our ongoing quest to learn the art of DIY charcuterie, Bestia chef Ori Menashe has shown us how to make rustic chopped liver and decadent pork butter. For our final installment of the meat-moulding master class, he teaches us how to make a snack that we like to call “pork cake” (though he calls it by its proper Italian name, ciccioli).
Ciccoli is a perfect template for any nose-to-tail tinkerer who believes in the importance of using every part of an animal, even the “odd bits”—these pressed cakes of fatty pork can be made with skin, neck, jowls, shanks, and any other leftover pig scraps.
Menashe uses straight-up pork belly for this demonstration because that’s what he had lying around, and because pork belly is fatty and delicious. But he encourages that you go to your butcher and ask for both pork belly and any odd bits that they have lying around. (Utilizing these lesser cuts will both save you money and add interesting color, texture, and flavor to your terrine.)
The meat cake is everything you want in a porcine snack: rich, fatty, crisp, and deep-fried until golden brown. You can garnish it with mustard, or even something sweet like a compote. Get creative, and know that when it comes to a cake made from pork, you can do no wrong.
How to Make Ciccioli (Pork Cake) à la Ori Menashe
- 1 kilo pork belly (you can also use pork neck, skin, jowl, and shanks)
- 2.5 grams pink salt #1
- 11 grams herb salt (made by pureeing kosher salt with rosemary, sage, fresh thyme, marjoram, and garlic), plus more for seasoning flour
- 5 grams garlic clove, minced
- 2 grams ground black pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- 4 cups pork stock (or vegetable or chicken stock)
- Egg wash
- Panko bread crumbs (put through a blender so they’re extra fine)
- Grapeseed oil
- Sea salt, for finishing
1. Season and cure the pork.
Put the pieces of pork belly in a bowl, then add the pink salt #1, black pepper, minced garlic, and herb salt.
Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of pork. Let the seasoned pork sit for at least 3 and up to 24 hours. “The longer you let it sit with the spice rub, the better it’s going to taste,” says Menashe.
2. Braise the pork.
Put the seasoned pork in a hotel pan (or a pot or deep baking dish). Add the stock and white wine to the pan; make sure you have enough liquid to cover the pork completely. Cover the pan with a tight lid—or plastic wrap and foil—so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate in the oven.
Cook the pork for about three hours in the oven at 350 degrees. You know the pork is ready when it’s falling apart.
3. Time to shred.
Let the pork rest for 45 minutes before shredding. After you’re done shredding, strain the pork and reserve the braising liquid (you can use the braising liquid to make pozole).
4. Prepare the mold.
Line the terrine mold with a large piece of plastic wrap. Add some olive oil to the mold beforehand to make it easier to spread the plastic wrap. If you don’t have a terrine mold, you can use a Pyrex container.
Cut out a shape of cardboard the size of the mold, then wrap the cardboard in aluminum foil. This is what you’ll use to press down on the pork.
5. Add the pork and chill.
Because it is a smaller portion, Menashe only fills half the mold here.
Fold the excess plastic over the top of the pork.
Put the foil-wrapped cardboard on top of the pork, then use something heavy—like a can—to weigh it down. (Menashe uses a couple big cans of anchovies.) Refrigerate the terrine for 24 hours.
6. Slice the pork cake.
The next day, unmold the pork cake and slice it into one-centimeter-thick pieces.
7. Coat the cake with flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs.
Season the flour with the herb salt. Dust the pork cake with the seasoned flour, and shake off any excess.
Next, dip the cake in the egg wash.
Then coat the entire cake in panko bread crumbs.
8. Pan-fry the pork cake.
Heat the grapeseed oil in a pan over high heat. Add in the butter.
Fry the pork cake, and baste it with the oil-butter mixture.
Once the cake is golden brown, flip it over and cook the other side.
9. Finish with sea salt.
Garnish the pork cake with mustard or something a little bit sweet, like a fruit compote. At Bestia, Menashe tops his pork cake with a salad of pickled shallots, pickled fennel, crème fraîche, and mustard seed.