Cooking Pork Belly is easier than you think.
In essence Pork Belly is an extra thick slab of bacon. Rich, fantastic bacon. The first time I experienced Pork Belly it was an appetizer paired with fried oysters (http://mandolinraleigh.com/). OMG. First of all, I am a HUGE fried oyster fan. This combo pushed me over the edge into food oblivion. Ever since, pork belly has become a monthly experiment for our household.
We’ve had it several ways but by far, grilled, charred & crispy is our favorite. Keep it as one full slab, or it should separate into 3-4 sections depending on the weight portion you’re working with. Season it with herbs, s&p, let it sit for at least 30-60 minutes. Place atop thick slices of onion in a saute pan, add in 1/4c. white wine or beer or stock and simmer briefly for 15 minutes, flipping the slab over halfway through.
In the meantime, get the grill going for 325°
It’s best to rack the Pork Belly in a 2-inch rimmed foil pan or grill safe dish as there will be a LOT of fat drippings. You may want to tie down the individual portions to the rack.
LOW and SLOW is the name of the game
Remember this if you learn anything about cooking Pork Belly: for crispy exterior and melt in your mouth interior keep the temperature low with a slow grilling or roasting time. Count on at least 3 hours at 325°, and let sit for 15 minutes before digging in. Then transform your taste buds like never before.
Two more ideas…..
Add cooked, diced pork belly to a steaming pot of luscious mussels. It’s a nice little surprise in every bite. Try roasting a whole slab in the oven over potatoes & onions. You are in for a serious treat. This method is to roast the whole slab, lightly seasoned with s/p directly on the oven rack at 325° while the oven rack below holds a 13×9 or larger rimmed dish, layered with sliced potatoes and onions. The fat will drip onto the vegetables. Roast like this for at least 3 hours. Mmmmmmm!
Pork Belly is available in these local Triangle butcher shops.
Generally, it runs about $7 per pound. Figure on 1 to 1.5 lbs for 4 people as an appetizer. It’s pretty rich as a main entree, however, for brunch it’s a delightful sub for bacon. My son made Pork Belly burritos for Mothers Day this year and they were amaaaazing. If you can find it in a mass merchandise store, be ready to buy 6 lbs worth (easy enough to divide and freeze).
Happy in the Kitchen! Oink oink