Wildflower Restaurant & Bar, located in the historic Grey Fox Inn in Stowe, Vermont, is a welcome addition to this state’s burgeoning dining scene. Owned and operated by SVT Hospitality, the restaurant opened in July 2021.
Wildflower’s kitchen is under the direction of Executive Chef Jonathan Shepard, who previously oversaw operations inside New York City’s Le Coucou, Momofuku, Nobu and Donatella restaurants. Wildflower’s menu fuses classic American fare with Dominican, Puerto Rican and Korean influences that reflect the team’s diverse cultural backgrounds.
Chef Shepard shared this recipe for Pork Belly Chicharron with Rice, Stewed Beans and Escabeche.
“The pork belly is prepared in a classic Korean style, representing my cultural background, while the rice, beans and escabeche reflect the Caribbean lineage of our co-founders, David Cid and Darnell Holguin. I love when the acidity from the lime and onion cut through the juicy fat of the belly, complementing each other well. This dish really has it all,” Shepard said.
- 1 lb. center cut pork belly with skin on
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup medium grain rice
- 1 cup dry black beans
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 white or red onion
- 1 lime
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 Roma tomato
To prepare the pork belly, preheat oven to 250 degrees; rub the flesh side with salt, pepper and minced garlic. Flip over onto foil and fold the sides of the foil up around the meat, leaving the skin exposed. Rub the vinegar onto the skin and sprinkle with salt. This will help the skin release more moisture. Place the pork belly in the foil box into the center of the oven for two hours. This is the first of a two-step cooking process.
As the pork is cooking, prepare the rice as normal with 1.5 cups water and a dash of salt, bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 minutes.
For the black beans, if you are using dry, soak overnight in water with triple the volume of beans. Then, the next day, drain and cook at a simmer with 2 cups of chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans. The beans will cook in about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste and mash a little bit with a fork to help thicken the sauce. If using canned prepared beans, just open and drain liquid. Add beans to a pan with some chicken stock to just cover and bring to a boil. Mash cooked beans slightly with a fork to thicken and set aside.
While preparing the escabeche, wear latex gloves when handling spicy peppers! Slice onions thinly and place into a mixing bowl. Remove and discard the seeds from the habanero pepper; slice and add to the bowl.
Cut tomato lengthwise into quarters; remove seeds and rough chop. Add the juice from the squeezed lime with a pinch of salt to the chopped tomatoes and mix together.
Remove the pork belly from the oven. Place oven rack to the uppermost position and turn the broiler on. When oven is hot, place the pork back on the top rack and watch as the skin bubbles and crackles. Do not let it burn. Remove pork from oven when the skin is puffed and golden brown.
Plate rice in center and pour some of the stewed beans on the top and down one side. Cut pork into ½ inch slices with a serrated knife skin side up; or flip over, skin side down to cut through the meat and chop through skin. Lay meat on top of rice and beans – I like a lot of the escabeche piled on top. The acidity from the lime and onion cut through the juicy fat of the belly, complementing each other well. If you are averse to the level of spice from a habanero, use less or choose a milder pepper like a jalapeño.
Suggested wine pairing
David Cid, principal partner at Wildflower Restaurant and Bar, suggests pairing this dish with Bonanza by Chuck Wagner California Cabernet Sauvignon, noting: “It doesn’t clash with the escabeche; nor is it disrupted by the habanero. This dish needs a good balance of red fruit flavors, with hints of tannins, that this wine delivers.”