Pork belly is a Hidden Kitchen favorite. It’s a great choice for dinner parties because most of the work can be done in advance and the slabs of belly can be cut to any size. We normally serve our belly with pickled or acidic things to cut through some of the fat. Our favorite paired ingredients are the pickled garden chilies pictured above (with raw baby leeks), capers, artichoke hearts, olives or tart cherries. Like bacon though, pork belly goes well with pretty much anything.
The most difficult part of the whole recipe is butchering the belly. Once you go through it a couple times though, the process becomes a lot faster and you will waste less meat. Of course you can always ask your butcher to prep the belly for you. If you have a hard time tracking down belly at your normal butcher, check your local Asian markets. Western butchers cure large amounts of their bellies into bacon, while most Asian recipes call for the belly to remain whole.
Step 1: Lay the belly flat on a cutting surface and carefully work the knife horizontally through the middle separating the rib bones from the rest of the belly. There is still plenty of meat on the belly that can be roasted as well or ground up for sausage.
Step 2: With the skin side up, work a sharp knife around one edge of the skin until you can grab it with your fingers. While pulling up on the skin continue to slowly work the knife between the meat and the skin until all of the skin is removed.
Step 3: Using the recipe below, grind up the dry ingredients in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Sprinkle and rub the dry ingredients into all sides of the prepared belly.
2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon whole cardamon
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 bottle of crisp white wine
4 cups chicken stock or water
Step 4: Dump a bottle of crisp white wine and enough chicken stock or water to come half way up the sides of the meat. You can also add some aromatics to the broth such as onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaf for added flavor.
Step 5: Cut a square of parchment paper just wider than the roasting pan. Fold the paper in half, then fold each of the side into the middle. Place the parchment lid loosely over the belly. Place the belly in a 320 f or 160 c oven. Set a timer for 3 hours. Check on the belly periodically to make sure there is still liquid in the pan. Add more a cup at a time as needed. After 3 hours, turn off the oven and allow the belly to rest in the liquid until it reaches room temperature.
Step 6: Place the belly on a cooking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Place another cooking sheet on top. Place 5 – 10 lbs of weight on the second cooking sheet pressing the belly below. Place in a refrigerator and allow to press and cool for 1 hour and up to overnight.
Step 7: Remove belly from cooking sheets and place on a cutting surface. Trip the edges of the belly to form a rectangle. Cut the belly into whatever sized pieces you want. You can refrigerate these pieces until you are ready to serve.
Step 8: Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the cut pork belly portions exposed side down and cook 2 – 3 minutes or until desired level of color and crispiness. Serve with garnishes.