What can I say? This post has been long over due. Having a pork-centric website without a post on the glories of pork belly is a crime to the swine. I plan on fixing that RIGHT NOW. The use for pork belly is endless. The most common form we see: bacon (recipe for that coming soon). But that is only the beginning of what this glorious cut of meat can achieve. Once you roast your first belly, this melt in your mouth, soft, yet crispy slab of pork will be waiting to find it’s way into a hot bowl of ramen, nestled into a corn tortilla, or seared with a sweet potato hash and a poached egg. The only limit to the use of pork belly is the quantity of Lipitor on hand.
What once was a cheap cut of meat, the belly has gotten trendy, along with all the other formerly affordable bits like short ribs, shanks, cheeks, etc. Supply and demand I guess (or blame the celeb chefs). Anyways, most good butcher shops worth their weight should have slabs of pork belly available (or better yet, go pig hunting in early spring in Northern California, where the hogs are fat from acorn gorging). If you can find it, go with a center cut piece. And even better, buy a local, organic one at that. The hardest part of making a properly roasted pork belly: patience. This is a plan ahead event, requiring one night (or at least 6 hours) to let the rub settle in, then another 4-5 hours slow roasting in the oven, then time to cool and I like to chill and press it overnight. Typically, since I’m going through all this work, I’ll do two different variations. One with a simple sugar/salt rub, the other with a spice mix. Either way, the anticipation is worth the wait.
- 3 lbs of pork belly
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon fennel
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- Score with knife(cross-hatch pattern) and season the belly with the salt/ sugar mix (or your own spice rub- just don’t forget the salt and sugar) and let it sit covered in the fridge overnight.
- Turn the oven on to 250F. Wipe off or rinse off some of the salt/sugar on the belly if you’re worried about if its excessive. Place in a roasting pan or shallow baking dish, fat side up and make sure the belly is elevated (use a wire rack or roll up some foil under it) so you can get even circulation.
- Roast for 3-4 hours or until evenly carmelized. Turn oven up to 450F for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking, letting it darken and crisp up.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Loosely cover in foil or saran wrap and place another dish on top to weigh it down and compress it (this give you a uniform shape and texture and presses out some additional fats as well). Place in fridge over night.
- Remove from fridge, slice into squares, heat up a cast iron skillet and sear away.
- Take cholesterol medication. Then enjoy.