For a luxury version of the BLT sandwich, here is tender, flavour-infused ham fried in slices and served with lettuce and tangy tomato chutney in a brioche bun with bacon mayonnaise.
For the pork belly, place all the ingredients in a large pan and pour in enough water to cover the pork by 3-4cm/1-2in. Bring the liquid to a simmer and skim off any froth or scum that rises to the surface. Once the water is reasonably clear, place a crumpled piece of baking parchment, cut to the diameter of the pan, on top of the pork belly. This will help to keep the moisture in the pan during cooking.
Gently simmer the pork belly for two hours until it is very tender. There should be no resistance when you pierce it with a knife. Let the belly cool completely in the cooking liquid.
Lift the cooled pork out of the pan and place on a baking tray. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour until it has firmed up, which will make it easier to slice. Once firm, remove the pork belly from the refrigerator and cut into individual portions.
While the pork is cooking, make the bacon mayonnaise. Heat the oil in a small pan over a low heat, add the bacon and gently fry until it has rendered all of its fat.
Strain the bacon through a fine sieve and reserve the bacon flavoured oil. (The bacon is not used in this recipe.) Let the oil cool to room temperature before you begin to make the mayonnaise or it may split.
Whisk the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard together in a large bowl. Whisking continuously, drizzle the cooled bacon oil slowly into the bowl in a steady stream to create an emulsion. Once all the oil has been incorporated, add the lemon juice and soy sauce, which will thin down the mayonnaise. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the tomato chutney, heat the oil in saucepan and add the onion. Cook the onion over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, paprika and lemongrass, and stir well. Gently cook for another five minutes, stirring every once in a while.
Heat the sugar in another dry pan until it melts and begins to caramelise to a golden-brown colour. Add the red wine vinegar and fish sauce to the caramel. If the caramel hardens upon contact with the liquid, stir the mixture for a few minutes until it dissolves. Pour this over the onion mixture and add the lime juice. Cook for a minute and add the diced tomatoes and stir well. Cook for a further minute then remove the pan from the heat.
When you are about ready to serve, remove the thick rind from the pork belly. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the pork belly pieces and fry for about two minutes on each side until golden-brown and warmed through. Toast the brioche buns and spread some bacon mayonnaise on the bottom halves. Arrange a few lettuce leaves on each brioche base, then place pork belly pieces and a generous spoonful of tomato chutney on top. Cover with the brioche lids and serve at once.
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