Crispy Pork Belly

pork belly 4

A woman I didn’t know walked up to me at the coffee shop this morning and said, “pork belly!”

And I was like, yes! Pork belly! As if it made perfect sense as a sort of salutation/introduction to our imminent conversation. She was British and wanted to know where to get some – it’s not exactly a mainstream cut in these parts, where you’d be hard pressed to find any piece of pig with the skin still attached. For crackling lovers, this is a problem.

pork belly 1

If you’re a fan of crispy bits and can find yourself a slab of pork belly, knowing how to cook it will make any carnivores in the immediate vicinity very, very happy. (Presuming you plan to share, that is.) It’s a cinch to cook, and a prime example of what happens when you take a good piece of meat and apply heat. So simple. To be honest, this belly never even made it to the table – we just stood around the stovetop, tearing it apart with our fingers when it was barely cool enough to handle.

pork belly 2

The trick is in the crackling; I read recently a technique where you rub the skin with baking soda to mess with the ph and encourage browning (it helps with the Maillard reaction by producing a more alkaline environment) and kickstart the breakdown of proteins in the skin, then leave the slab uncovered on a rack in the fridge overnight to dry it out somewhat. Because I rarely have the wherewithal to plan a day ahead, I skipped this step, but tried it with chicharrones.

(If you do it, rinse the baking soda off and pat the skin dry before you cook the belly.)

pork belly 3

This is the way to straight-up roast your piece of meat, with lots of crispy crackling on top. If you like, maximize the rendered fat and the heat of the oven by tossing some potatoes into the pan around the meat halfway through the cooking time. (I’m still getting to know my new oven, and so may have blasted my poor little potatoes a little too much. Ahem.)

pork belly 4
pork belly 4

Crispy Roast Pork Belly

Recipe link

  

January 6, 2015

Ingredients

one 2 lb. piece of pork belly

canola or olive oil

a few sprigs fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, halved and sliced

1-2 small heads garlic, left whole and halved crosswise

1/2 lb. (250 g) new potatoes, halved if needed (optional)

Directions

1Pat the pork belly dry and score the skin with a sharp knife in both directions, without cutting all the way through to the meat. Rub the garlic clove over the surface of the pork, drizzle with oil and rub all over. Pull the leaves off a couple sprigs of thyme and sprinkle overtop; drizzle with a little more oil. Let the meat stand for about 30 minutes.

2

3Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450?F and place the onions in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the pork belly on top and place a couple sprigs of thyme and the halved garlic around it; drizzle the exposed garlic with a little oil and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 300?F and continue to roast for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender and the skin is crisp. If you like, toss a few new potatoes into the pan around the meat, shaking it up to coat them with the rendered fat, about three quarters of the way through the cooking time.

4

5Let rest on a cutting board before slicing. Serves 4-6.

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14 comments on “Crispy Pork Belly

  1. jo
    January 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I am guessing that the 12 lb piece of pork belly in the recipe should actually be 1/2 lb. am I right?

  2. jo
    January 7, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I am guessing that the 12 lb piece of pork belly in the recipe should be 1/2 lb. Am I right?

    • Julie
      January 9, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Ack, it should say 1-2 lbs Jo!

  3. Pauline
    January 7, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I read this as one 2lb piece of pork belly. There wAs a time a few years ago you could buy a leg of pork with the skin on, it was a big fight who could get to it first, being from England we would call this crackle, we would score the skin and rub it quite liberally with salt. This is making me hungry for it. Thanks again julie for another simple but wow recipe.

  4. Laurie from Richmond
    January 8, 2015 at 9:20 am

    That’s wonderful. They had pork on special last weekend to clear out the Christmas stuff, and I picked up a shoulder with the skin on, and made crackling with it. I did what you did, but also added sweet potatoes and squash pieces. It was so nummy! Then we ate the left overs the second night, reheated on the plates like another fresh roast and the crackling heated in a pan to make them crisp. Unfortunately, we snacked on them and did not have any at all for the third night. I chunked up and froze four packets of the meat, and made a stew of some of it for last night. Yum Yum. Tonight we’ll have the rest of the stew, and on Friday, and I have the bone for Saturday to make something else porky. :) And there are still four bags of frozen pork in the freezer. I like it when they sell off the Christmas stuff. My hubby also picked up two boxes of dark chocolate for snacking, but that’s another story …

    • Julie
      January 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

      That sounds fab Laurie!

  5. Laurie from Richmond
    January 8, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Oh, and I added onions to the roast, and made gravy

  6. Adrian
    January 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

    In Europe, Australia/New Zealand etc. pork belly is often on the menu at nice restaurants. Why, or why, can’t we get it here? Any suggestions as to where to find it?

    • Julie
      January 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Adrian – I get my pork belly at the farmers’ market from Spragg – you can also generally get it at the butcher shop.. I like Second to None Meats!

  7. June
    January 11, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Had this for dinner night before last and it is fabulous. Last night we finished the lot – fried slices until crisp and served on top of coleslaw with pears, walnuts and a maple dressing. Awesome! Once again, thanks for the inspiration Julie.

    • Julie
      January 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Ooh, that sounds completely divine June! I’m going to try that next time!

  8. Tara
    January 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I have never had anything like this, it looks amazing!!

  9. G Smith
    October 2, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Your local Asian market is a good source for Pork Belly. My local shop here sells it for $3.99 lb Canadian.I just picked up a 3lb slab and will try this recipe soon.

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