I have eaten Pork Belly at several restaurants and absolutely loved it, but never seen it for sale — until last week that is. So armed with a massive slab of pork belly (which I promptly cut in half) I had to decide what to do with it!
From my research, the key with pork belly, as with any tough cut of meat, seems to be long slow cooking times. However, because pork belly has this beautiful layer of fat on the top, recipes usually call for searing it off first or cooking it with the fat exposed to the heat of the oven so it can get lovely and crispy.
In the end I chose the simplest roast recipe for my first attempt and was quite satisfied with the results. Although it fell apart somewhat when I cut it and the skin was a little too crispy, the flavour of the meat and the gravy were unbelievable. I may never make gravy without pork fat again. Seriously.
Next time, I would cook the pork for slightly less time, (in my case three hours were sufficient but I let it go 4). If you are willing to spend a bit more time try this braised pork belly recipe.
Now, once you have made this, you may be looking for more pork belly recipes for the leftovers, here are a few ideas:
Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps with an Apple and Fennel Slaw
Tortellini with Pork Belly, Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Slow Roasted Pork Belly(serves 2)
Adapted from Cook with Jamie
Preheat oven to 450F. Chop carrots and onion into big pieces. Place in a roasting pan with garlic. Chop up a about a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and combine with chili flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl. Any remaining thyme sprigs can be tossed in with the vegetables.
Place the pork belly on a cutting board skin side up. With a sharp knife make parallel lengthwise cuts about 1 cm away from each other through the skin and deep into the fat but not enough to penetrate the meat. Rub the spice mixture all over the meat, getting in between the cuts of fat and on the bottom. Place pork belly fat side up on the vegetables.
Put in the oven for 30 minutes then turn the temperature down to 325F. Cook for another 30 minutes at 325F. Remove from the oven and pour off any excess fat. Add wine and return to the oven for another hour.
Baste the pork with the juices. Then remove the vegetables and wine to a tall container. Put the pork back in the oven for another hour or until crispy on the top and fork tender. Meanwhile skim the fat from the vegetableswine mixture and put in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and reduce until thickened. Sprinkle in ~1T flour and whisk together. Cook for another 15 minutes and then strain and discard all the vegetables, pressing them to get out all the juices. Keep warm, stirring occasionally until pork is ready.