Two posts in one week? I know, crazy. But when I went grocery shopping on Monday I discovered a hidden gem in the meat aisle. Sitting by itself was a slab of pork belly for $4. Without knowing how to cook it, I decided to grab it anyway and find out.
Tuesday I spent hours searching online for how to cook pork belly. And it looks like everyone has a different idea. A quick google search says everything from grilling, to roasting, to broiling. Some people say cook it high first and then low; others say the opposite.
In the end I decided to go with the instructions Mel gives on her blog The Clothes Make the Girl. She actually gives a spice / marinade recipe but I decided to skip that part and instead just cover the pork with a new spice I bought called Mesa Rosa Chipotle by Urban Accents.
I tried it for the first time about a month ago when cooking at Jake’s cousin’s house. And loved it so much I ran to Mariano’s to buy it. Looks like you can also get it directly from the company’s website and through Amazon. I’m obsessed. (Also as a side note, it’s gluten-free).
Anyway this is what I did:
About 30 minutes before you start cooking, take the pork belly out of the fridge so it comes closer to room temperature. Then place it skin side up on a cutting board and dry off the skin a bit with a paper towel. Using a very sharp knife, you want to score the fat, making cuts about .5 to 1 inch apart. It doesn’t have to be perfect just don’t cut all the way through the meat. Also you might have some trouble cutting the skin if your knife isn’t sharp enough. Some websites even showed people using X-Acto knives but I didn’t think that was necessary.
Flip your pork belly over and coat the meat with your spices. Flip the pork belly back over skin side up and coat that side as well.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (F). Then you want to cook the pork in some sort of roasting pan so that as the fat melts, the meat won’t sit in it. I have a wire rack that fits into a baking sheet. Also you can line the bottom with tin foil to make cleaning up easier. I sprayed the wire rack with a little bit of coconut oil but I’m almost positive that step was unnecessary with all of the fat from the pork.
Then here is the fun part. Cook the pork belly for 30 minutes. I say fun because this is also when I set off the smoke alarm….
Don’t worry, there wasn’t a fire. But it’s possible some of the sizzling fat started to smoke. There was a lot of opening windows and me standing underneath the smoke alarm with a fan.
After 30 minutes, lower the oven to 350 degrees (F) and cook for an additional hour. When it was finished, I used my meat thermometer and the pork came in between 190 and 200 internal temp. But really it just needs to be around 160 degrees (F) according to the internet.
In the end I couldn’t believe how easy that was (minus the whole setting off the fire alarm bit). The meat was tender, the fat was crispy and the seasoning was flavorful. My only regret was not using the melted pork fat to roast vegetables afterwards.
I definitely will be experimenting with pork belly again. Although next time I want to find a local pork supplier. I’m sure Mariano’s meat is fine but I’m all for supporting local farmers instead.
What about you guys? Got any great pork belly recipes or tips?