I’m Big on the Pig. And Here are Two Pork Meals That Will Make You A Fan as Well.

Appetizers / October 25, 2017
As each year passes for me here in the Carolinas, I find myself leaning effortlessly into my Southerness. It’s not just the refinement of my accent, which is now so much a part of the cadence of my speech that many people back home find themselves asking, “huh?” when I speak quickly. It’s the rhythm of things here that I love. It is slower here, more deliberate and authentic. I could never again live without the chirp of tree frogs after dark, and I don’t really even despise the red clay dirt on my running shoes. Even grits make sense to me.

Then, there’s my love of pork. Holy Mother of Hominy. This is food of the gods! For instance, I love pork belly! Chunks of fatty, flavorful meat that if it were sliced thinly would be your morning bacon. But in squares of juicy loveliness they are almost a delicacy. I mean, how did I not know about this from birth?

Pigs, in fact are not indigenous to the US, even though they’ve been around for quite awhile. They were first introduced in the 1500’s to what is now the southeastern U.S. by Spanish Explorer, Hernando DeSoto. I’m not sure the Spanish like the way we assume we “own” the idea of pork. But maybe around a table we could just agree we’ve both made the most of it.

​Try this easy appetizer and see if you can’t fill up your table with other folks yearning to get in touch with their Southerness.

Chipotle & Ginger Seared Pork Belly Bites

Serves 4


1 ½ lbs. pork belly, cut into 1 ½” squares (best to use pork belly already slow cooked and soft)
1/3 C chipotle mayonnaise
3 T sweet balsamic like cranberry or pomegranate
2 T candied ginger diced into very small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T light olive oil


  • Mix together the balsamic, mayo, and candied ginger. Set aside.
  • Bring a large saucepan to high heat and add 1 T of light oil. Sear the pork belly on both sides until caramelized on each side. This takes about 2 minutes or so per side.
  • Ladle the sauce equally onto the tops of the cubes of pork belly, and continue to cook pork belly about another minute. Then blend the sauce in with the hot pan drippings, stirring everything around to coat. Cook until pork is done but careful not to overcook.
  • Serve by placing the pork belly squares on a platter and then gently spooning the sauce and the candied ginger pieces over the top. Serve with a slice of cool, English cucumber.

Sausage, Apple & Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash with Orange Infused Brown Rice Medley

Serves 4


2 small acorn squash, halved, with seeds and pith removed
4-5 T lite olive oil
½ lb mild Italian breakfast sausage
1 large Fuji apple cut into cubes
1/3 C craisins
¼ C thinly sliced sweet onion
1 C brown rice medley
1 1/3 C orange juice
¾ C chicken stock
¼ C white wine
3 C fresh spinach
2 T fresh thyme leaves
½ t high quality curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a baking dish place the four halves of squash with cut side up. Spread all sides evenly with about 3 T of oil, and salt and pepper generously. Bake for about 50 minutes or until knife inserted pushes in easily and the flesh is tender. Don’t overcook. While squash is cooking add the rice to the 1 Co range juice and¾ C stock and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and turn very low and cook for about 50 minutes. Follow direction of package. Some brown rice medleys need different ratios of liquid or longer cooking times. Bring a large saucepan to a high heat and add the 2 T oil. Add the sausage and cook until almost done, breaking it up as you cook it. Add the apple and onion,and the thyme,stirring to wilt the onion and cook it.
  • Add the 1/3 C orange juice to deglaze, add the craisins and stir until juice has reduced. About 4 minutes. Now add the rice to the saucepan, add the wine and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove cover, add the spinach and stir until it is warm and wilts. Remove squash from oven. Spoon in the rice mixture into the cavity, and serve!!!

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