Saturday, November 21, 2009


So, let's take a poll: Is there anyone here who doesn't like fatty, melt in your mouth pork?

I didn't think so.

Pork, when slow cooked and allowed to just get all tender and juicy, is just one of my most favorite things in the whole. wide. world.

Pork belly is now starting to pop up in fancy restaurants as appetizers and sometimes it's good, sometimes it isn't. To be really good, it has to be slow cooked, like ribs, so the fat is still intact, but as soon as you take a bite it just melts like butter. I happen to looooooove Charlie Palmer's version of pork belly.

This is my version.....

Pork belly is basically unsmoked bacon. I got mine at the Asian market. It's not salty, not cured at all. And, it had the rind. You can take the rind off, but why would you want to? It cooks up so crispy it'll rattle your brain when you eat it. "Cracklins" is what they call it in the south. Soooo yummy!

With all this fat, this is best as an appetizer type dish, rather than a main dish, so I cut it in smaller pieces, each serving is about 2 ounces. Salt each side generously and place into a 325 oven. I like to use a grill pan so the fat has somewhere to go, and the pork doesn't confit in it's own fat. You're looking for tender ... not crispy. Well, the rind can be crispy, but that should be the only part.

If your rind is on, you need to score it before cooking because it contracts quite a bit, and it will totally jack-up the look of your piece of pork belly. And do this the way you want to cut it, because after it cooks, you can not cut through it.

I put my pork in the oven, at 325, for about an hour. But ovens vary, so check yours after about 40 minutes. You're looking for tender pork, and the fat all crispy at the edges - yet almost liquid inside. Crispy is OK, but if you cook it too long it will melt too much fat away and then it'll just be tender, lean pork. Sorta missing the point of the whole "equal parts of meat/fat" thing.

Since it is not salty, I like to add some flakey sea salt or even rock salt on the portions, then I drizzle the plate with agave nectar. If you haven't had agave nectar, it's very good - similar to honey and even a little bit like maple syrup. It's a great sweet & salty thing :)