Pork Belly is a cut of pork (usually used for bacon) that most home cooks don’t prepare, mainly because it takes a few days which can be kind of daunting. The thing to remember about recipes that take a few days is that you’re not actually working on the food that whole time. In this case you put a dry rub on the meat and put it in the fridge for 24 hours, then go watch “Top Chef”.
I had never actually seen pork belly outside of a restaurant kitchen until recently when Rowe Farms started selling it. I’d love to see it available more often, it’s such a delicious cut and so rich that you only need a small portion to satisfy leaving more room on the plate for veggies. This is a perfect recipe for those trying to follow Michael Pollan’s advice, “Eat food, not a lot, mostly greens.”
I usually dry rub the belly and let it sit overnight, then sear and slow braise in the oven. The end result is the reason someone invented the word ‘melt’. If you are prepared to wait a few days for dinner, this will be well worth it. I’m lucky enough to be able to call one of the country’s greatest chefs when I want some advice on cooking. Anthony Walsh, Canoe’s Executive Chef and loyal Fiesta Farms shopper has this advice. “When you do a dry rub, you do a wet cook, so braising is the way to go. Do it with a big, chunky mirepoix so it releases its flavours slowly. Later I would take that mirepoix and chop it up small to serve in the final dish – it’s full of pork belly flavour.”
spice blend : 1/2 tsp each of clove, nutmeg, paprika, dried sage + 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery)
beer (in this case Innis & Gunn)
- Massage the dry rub into the meat and refrigerate overnight.
- Score the fat, season well with salt and pepper.
- Sear the scored fat till brown and crispy. Remove from pot, add mirepoix and sautee.
- Place bellies fat side up on top of mirepoix with just enough liquid, I used a bottle of Innis & Gunn and some orange juice, to come up to the top of the belly but not cover.
- Then top with parchment and cover with tinfoil or lid.
- Cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 300, then cook uncovered for another hour or so.
When I worked for Anthony Walsh, chef Johny Butler would often do an amuse using toasted brioche, pork belly and a fried quail egg as a play on breakfast. Makes a beautiful plate and tastes fantastic.
I was inspired to cook this after reading a recipe that’s a twist on cassoulet in Kristina Groeger’s excellent blog http://kristinagroeger.com/
So the final plate ends up a combination of those two inspirations – breakfast and cassoulet. I served the belly over beans that were added in the last 45 minutes of cooking and made a composed salad of bacon, egg, beets and blue cheese vinaigrette.