To this day I’ve never met a pork belly I didn’t like. Maple glazed, roasted, confit, braised, smoked, I’ll eat them all. Pork belly may very well be the single best tasting thing on the face of the planet.
If you’ve never made it before you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. I’ve experimented a lot with different methods of prepping the pork belly but I’ve found that the simplest (and fastest) prep leads to the best taste in the end.
There’s a few myths around pork belly that I’d like to debunk.
- Letting the pork belly dry out in your fridge. Nope, there’s no need. While the skin should be dry when it goes into the oven there is no need to let it dry out for hours in your fridge. Trust me, I’ve tried both washing, drying, then letting it sit uncovered in the fridge for hours or even overnight, and washing, drying, then putting it into the oven straightaway. The cracking actually turns out better if it’s not left to sit for hours in your fridge.
- Marinating the pork belly for hours. While there’s certainly no harm done in letting the marinade sit on the pork for hours it also doesn’t seem to make a noticeable difference in the end. Don’t waste your time.
- Quickly cooking the pork belly. I’ve seen a few of these recipes online … please please please don’t do this. Pork belly is a fatty cut of meat and needs a long slow roast in the oven to render the fat so that it is soft and melts in your mouth. A quick roast will give you chewy fat. Remember: long and slow.
- Pork belly is a fancy cut of meat and should be left to the pros. Actually lets not debunk this one; let’s just let all our dinner guests think we’re amazing when we set down the most perfectly cooked meat they’ve ever seen. I won’t tell them how easy it is to cook if you don’t.
The last few times I’ve made pork belly I’ve served it with some chipotle aioli on the side. I love love love the combination of the fatty meat, the sweet marinade and the smoky, spicy aioli. It’s a big win.
Before you dash into your kitchen to throw your pork belly into the oven I want to talk for a second about crackling. You know, the crispy super tasty skin. It’s like crispy chicken skin, only better.
To make perfect crackling you must do three things:
- Oil the skin with about 1 teaspoon of oil. I use sesame oil in this recipe but make sure that whatever recipe you use, or if you experiment on your own, always oil the skin. The oil helps render the fat in the skin making it crispy.
- Salt the skin liberally. Salt = flavour. Eating unsalted crackling would be like eating unsalted potato chips. I find that flaky sea salt works the best.
- The skin needs a blast of heat after the pork belly has cooked in order to crisp. I find that broiling the skin crisps it the fastest and helps prevent the meat from drying out.
- 1 - 1 ½ lb boneless pork belly
- 2 tablespoons brown miso
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon salt works great)
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise* (not Miracle Whip)
- 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 4 drops liquid smoke
- 1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place an ovenproof cooling rack on top of it.
- Wash the pork belly and dry it very well. Make sure the skin is completely dry. Make cuts, 1 inch apart, through the skin. Make sure you cut all the way through the skin (into a little of the fat is ok) but do not cut through to the meat. Turn the pork belly over and stab the meat all over with the tip of your knife.
- In a small bowl mix together the miso, maple syrup and Chinese five spice. Liberally coat the meat (not the skin!) side of the pork belly. Place the pork belly skin side up on top of the cooling rack.
- Pour the sesame oil over top of the skin and massage it in. Sprinkle the top with the flaky sea salt.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours. Make the chipotle aioli while the pork is cooking and keep it covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.
- Increase the oven temperature to broil at 420 degrees. Move the pork belly to a rack in the top third of your oven. Broil it for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork skin is very crispy.
- Remove the pork belly from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes, uncovered. Slice the pork belly and serve with the chipotle aioli on the side.
- Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and place it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.
This post has been shared with the Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes link party!