Ok, you hungry gourmets, and inebriates….I always get those two mixed up…it’s time for a new recipe. Pork belly is the au courant delectable on many snobby restaurant menus these days, so let’s try that. What the hell is pork belly anyway? Don’t think stomach; that’s on the inside. Belly’s the meat on the outside and when it’s cured with sugar, or salt, or smoke, we call it bacon. So, think of pork belly as a big slab of uncured and unsliced bacon. One difference for Americans is the thick slice of skin that remains on top. Europeans are used to seeing a strip of tough covering, as their bacon also usually comes with the rind in tact.
Between the layer of rind and the meat is a layer of fat, and it’s this layer that will lead to a heavenly flavor and the tenderness you only get from your spouse on special occasions.
The secret to a great pork belly is to give it a chance, and that means lengthy cooking at low temps. Try to rush it and you’ll see disappointment and scorn on the faces on the other side of the table. The more volatile will smash plates.
Follow my instructions, which I present with love and good wishes, and all you will see are smiles.
Preheat the oven to 250ºF (120ºC)
1 to 1 ½ lbs pork belly, dusted with salt, pepper, and sugar
For the sauce
2 Cups water
1 Heaping tablespoon of Bovril (my favorite, or use another brand of beef extract)
1 Bottle of beer (I used Bitburger pils)
½ Cup soy sauce
½ Cup sugar
Puttin’ it all together
Leave the skin on and braise the pork on all sides in 2 Tablespoons of oil, then remove it from the pan and set it aside.
Put the sauce ingredients together in a large saucepan (with a lid), or a small roasting pan. Stir while it comes to a boil.
Add the pork belly to the saucepan, cover, and put it in the oven for 3 ½ hours.
At the end of 3 ½ hours, remove the pork belly from the saucepan, slice off the skin, and put the meat aside to rest. I sometimes slice the skin into bite sized pieces and put it in a 400ºF oven until it’s crisp.
|Remove the skin and here's what it looks like after removal|
Chill the broth and skim off the fat.
While the meat rests, put the sauce back on the stovetop and cook until the broth is reduced by half.
Return the pork belly to the saucepan and allow it to reheat, turning it once.
Remove the meat, slice it into serving portions, put the portions on plates and ladle on the sauce.
I served this with small boiled potatoes, halved, skin left on, and sliced zucchini with diced onion and a sprig of rosemary, lightly steamed and laced with balsamic reduction.
Now you’re asking me to get to the good part and tell you about the wine. Ok. A wonderful Italian Primitivo. Don’t know about Primitivos? Well, I’m happy to oblige, but not now.