Why pair a cocktail to a dish when you can take the best elements of that cocktail and make them a key part of the meal itself?

That was chef Matt Stone’s thinking when creating a dish to enjoy with a Paloma – an effervescent spritzer of Don Julio tequila and grapefruit soda that’s easy to make in the home kitchen. The result: Don Julio and grapefruit glazed pork belly skewers.

“I wanted something a little bit savoury, with sweet and sour in the sauce,” he says. “By making the caramel to glaze the pork and [balancing it] with the tequila, it has a lovely depth of flavour.”

Don Julio’s signature Blanco tequila features lemon, lime and grapefruit notes that make it a great match with richer Southeast Asian dishes. Glazed pork skewers might seem a simple dish to prepare at home, but Stone recommends taking time to read through the recipe first because there are a few steps to follow. The first is to buy good quality pork. Stone suggests going to “a really nice butcher” for a free-range, organic, local piece of pork belly. “It’s quite a rich dish, so you don’t need a huge portion size, so I suggest investing in high quality meat and serving a small amount.”

Once you’ve brined the pork and you are at the cooking stage, it’s important not to rush it; go nice and slow to allow the fat to render out. “Make sure you’ve got some time. If you rush it, you’ll end up with a chewy, fatty, burnt piece of pork, rather than a nice, rendered, tender piece of pork.”

Stone reckons the combination of Asian flavours and the Thai technique of using a caramel glaze works well with the citrus notes of the Mexican drink. “I think that sums up what Australian food is. We have influences from so many different cultures, and with such good ingredients – that we can grow and produce – so in a way this pairing is uniquely Australian.”

Recipe: Don Julio Paloma
Serves 1
1 standard drink

Ingredients:
30ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
150ml Fever Tree pink grapefruit soda
Wedge of grapefruit to garnish
1 tsp sea salt

Method:
Rim half a tall highball glass with sea salt. Assemble all ingredients with plenty of ice. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.

Recipe: Don Julio & grapefruit glazed pork belly skewers
Serves 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours brining time

Ingredients:
500g skinless pork belly, cut into 2cm cubes
50g salt
1L water
6 skewers (soak in water if using bamboo)

Sauce:
1/2 cup caster sugar
Dash of vinegar
60ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
1 pink grapefruit, juiced
100ml soy sauce
1/2 red chilli, roughly chopped
4 coriander roots, washed, dried and roughly chopped
2 spring onions, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 thumb sized piece ginger

Garnish:
handful picked coriander
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 shallot, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoons fried shallots
1 lime

Method: Mix the salt and water in a bowl until all the salt is dissolved. Place the diced pork in. Leave to brine for minimum 2 hours but 4 is great if you have the time. Once brined take the pork out and dry on kitchen towel. Skewer evenly through the grain of the pork belly. Roughly 5 pieces each.

Slice up the ginger to leave a nice piece that you can shred finely, about half. Mix that together with the coriander, spring onion, chilli, shallot, garlic and set aside. Place the sugar into a small very clean saucepan. Mix in the vinegar and a small splash of water and stir. Place on medium–high heat to dissolve and caramelise. You want to take the sugar pretty dark, so you get a bitter-sweet flavour. Remove from the heat and swirl around a little to cool slightly. Slowly and carefully add the chilli, coriander roots, spring onions, shallot, and garlic. Stir and fry them in the sugar for about 1 minute until very fragrant. Add the Don Julio. Swirl to incorporate. Cook the booze off and add the grapefruit juice and soy. Cook for about 8 minutes or until reduced and slightly thick. It should be nice and glossy. Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the chilli, coriander roots, spring onions, shallot, and garlic.

Place a heavy-based no-stick pan on a medium heat. Add a tiny splash of oil. Add the skewered pork. Fry slowly for around 10 minutes on that first side (heaps of fat will render out of the pork). You want to achieve a dark-golden colour. It is important to cook the meat slowly so the fat renders and the meat cooks through. Turn the skewers and brush with the sauce. Do a few coats. The flipped side will colour much faster. Once it starts to colour, flip and brush. Continue to flip and brush until you achieve a deeply caramelised, glossy skewer. Once cooked, turn off the heat and leave to rest in the pan.

While the skewers are resting mix the chilli, garlic and shallot for the garnish with the fried shallots and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve this little salad on or around the skewers with some fresh lime.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Don Julio.