I finally decided to try a slow cooking dish with the new circulator. This was my first real attempt to cooking meat overnight, and I must say that I was incredibly happy with the result! The meat fell off the bone effortlessly, the skin was crispy and the sauce was rich and tasty. The marsala wine sauce added that Italian touch to the dish. I am starting to really appreciate sous-vide cooking, since once you get into it and it becomes more natural, it's really a "set and forget" affair.
I used pork belly on the bone, and I brined it for a couple of hours in a solution of 1l of water, 80gr salt and 30gr of sugar. It would have been better to brine it overnight, but I didn't have the time and I decided to take that shortcut this time. At least next time, when I will be doing it the proper way, I will know the difference. After brining the pork, I quickly washed and vacuum packed it together with a "herb sachet" containing black peppercorns and thyme.
Herb sachets are used to let the aromas of the herbs circulate within the vacuum pack without entering in direct contact with the meat, therefore avoiding concentration of flavour at specific spots.
I made my herb sachet by wrapping the herbs into a cling film, and then trimming the edges to let the liquid go through the sachet.
I sealed the pork in a vacuum bag together with about 80ml of chicken stock.
Finally, I slow-cooked the pork at 180F (82.2C) for 12 hours, then removed it from the water bath, chilled it and refrigerated. At the time of serving, I opened the pack and set aside the gelatin surrounding the meat (this forms during the slow cooking process followed by refrigeration). I removed the skin from each piece of belly and crisped it on a non-stick pan, skin side down (no added oil necessary) on high-heat. At the same time, on a normal stick metal pan, I browned each piece of pork on a thin film of canola oil. Once browned, I removed the pork and deglazed with a splash of Marsala wine (the Italian touch that does magic with pork!), and once the alcohol evaporated I added the gelatin and another 40ml of chicken stock. I reduced the sauce over 4-5 minutes, then served it with the pork bellies, topped with their own crispy skin.