Did it – Pork Belly #1

It’s definitely a little scary to contemplate, but I did it. I cooked my first piece of pork belly.

I ordered from Niman Ranch, an eight pound slice of pork belly. It came as a super-flat, fatty slab. One side was solid white – not even a trace of meat there. In cross section, it was clearly the same cut as bacon.

So I cut it up into eight roughly even portions. I froze seven. One entered the fridge.

Last night I mixed kosher salt, a lot of fresh ground pepper, and some ground coriander seed, and then I rubbed it all over the piece in the fridge, and put it back in for the night.

Tonight, I roasted it. It’s definitely a work-in-progress, but it was pretty delish.

First, I heated a pan, added olive oil, and fried the top and bottom for about seven minutes each. Then I took the chunk out, and added some leeks, onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Most recipes said I would toss the veggies later, but I figured I’d eat them. In the end, the recipes were right – only the leeks had any flavor left. So the potatoes were a waste, since they likely didn’t add anything to the flavor (maybe they thickened it a little? doubtful).

After the veggies were cooked down a bit, I nestled the pork belly back in, skin/fat side up. Then I poured some white wine in until it was about halfway up the meat, put a lid on it, and put it in a 325 degree oven for about two hours, basting it maybe every forty minutes.

Then, I scooped out all of the veggies (tried, really tried to eat them, but flavorless largely) and raised the temp to 450, and put the meat back in, higher in the oven, and no lid. I wanted a crispy top, but I didn’t quite get it.

When I took it out after about ten more minutes, the top had a beautiful golden color, and the fat that rendered made a thick sauce with the other pan remnants.

I cut the piece in two to give a hunk to my son. Then I plated and poured the pan drippings over top. Here’s how it looked:





Next piece: broil the top longer at the end to get something crispy happening. Maybe more flavor overall. Consider Asian spices: ginger, soy, miso, etc. Otherwise, clove and cinnamon could be good. Or dried fruits.

Main surprise: the overall sweetness of the food. I don’t know where it came from – maybe the onions – but it was just a really sweet piece of meat.

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