Maple Glazed Pork Belly with Crispy Crackling
To this day, I've never met a pork belly I didn't like. Maple glazed, roasted, confit, braised, smoked, or made into porchetta, 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 are a few myths about 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 let's 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 = flavor. 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.
If you make Maple Glazed Pork Belly with Crispy Crackling and Chipotle Aioli, make sure to snap a pic and tag @theendlessmeal on Instagram so I can like and comment on your photos. I love seeing TEM recipes you create.
Maple Glazed Pork Belly with Crispy Crackling
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- 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
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 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 wire rack on top of it.
- Dry the pork belly with paper towels. Make cuts in the pork belly skin 1 inch apart. When you finish one direction, make cuts in the other direction so that the top of the pork belly has been cut into little squares. This helps the fat render and makes it much easier to cut and eat once it's cooked. 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.1 ½ lb boneless pork belly
- 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 wire rack.2 tablespoons brown miso, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- Pour the sesame oil over the top of the skin and massage it in. Sprinkle the top liberally with the flaky sea salt.1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Bake the pork belly for 2 hours in the center of your oven. Increase the oven temperature to a low broil – see notes! 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.
- While the pork is in the oven, make the chipotle aioli. Whisk the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and place it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, ½ teaspoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 4 drops liquid smoke, 1 small garlic clove, ⅛ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 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.
If you like pork, check out all of our tasty pork recipes!
Im trying to produce a po boy that I had in New Orleans…this sounds close..im off to the shops. Cheers.
Can I adapt this to cooking in a smoker instead of oven?
While I haven’t tried it, I suspect that it would be delicious in a smoker!
Hi Kristen. Made this the other night and actually did a head to head with another batch that was braised in milk for the same cooking time. Concensus: these were the clear winner (although neither really had any leftover staying power. They were all gone the next day). I made a few modifications: I more or less doubled the quantities of the miso-maple syrup and also added a little balsamic vinegar to the mix just because. That also gave me a lot of liquid that I reduced on the stove and drizzled all over the cooked meat. The biggest different was that I started with already cut pork belly strips. That gave me more surface area to shmear the sauce on before cooking. Your tips were great. Next version: sorghum instead of maple syrup. Thanks.
I’m so happy to hear everyone loved the recipe! Love the sound of your next version!
Is this a main dish or an appetizer? In either case, what would you serve with it?
It can be both! As an appetizer, I cut it into smaller pieces and serve it alongside the dip. As the main course, I usually go with a big salad to balance the richness of the pork belly. Sometimes some roasted veggies, too. I had a friend once serve this for brunch over some yam chili with fried eggs and it was amazing that way, too!
What’s the trick to finding a good piece of pork belly? Is there a certain cut one should ask for?
No real trick. Just make sure that the pork belly you buy is a larger slab … occasionally it’ll be cut into smaller pieces. I’ll often ask the butcher to cut out the bone. If that’s not possible, it’s easy to do at home with a sharp knife. 🙂
Hi going to do this today. Do you cook it skin side up or meat side up
Skin side up!
is the temp in degree’s centigrade or F
275 degrees Fahrenheit 🙂
It certainly looks very appetizing. Hopefully, when I try your recipe and method of
cooking belly pork, it will be as good as yours. I’ll let you know – and I’ll be forever
grateful to you because I’ve tried it several times, never done it successfully. I’m
keeping my fingers crossed. I will let you know soon as I’ve done it the first time
I will try your recipe.
Do let me know when you try it. I’ve used this recipe many times and love it. 🙂
That’s the leanest, non fattiest pork belly I have ever seen in my life. Just sayin.
Oh I can assure you there was a nice thick layer of tasty fat under all the crispy skin 🙂
Hey Kristen, thanks for the lovely pork belly recipe! Tried it out this weekend with some rib pork belly, was looking for a simple preparation and it came out nicely. Really liked the chipotle aioli, accidentally put too much maple syrup in but was still very tasty.
I may try it out again this weekend with some tweaks but grazie and great photos!
So happy to hear it turned out for you! Pork belly is one of my favourites 🙂
Wow Kristen, I am so glad I found your post. Let me tell you I read your “myths” and LOL because guess what – I have done them all! My gosh, your crackling looks divine. I think I am going to give your recipe a go.
Loved the tips and myth-busting. My family and I absolutely cannot live without pork belly–it definitely is up there as one of the godly ingredients 😉 And serving the aioli alongside is positively decadent! Your “Not Miracle Whip” was funny ^^
That looks absolutely wonderful. I love pork belly. I must try this soon.
I am buying a pork belly immediately! This looks amazing. This is my first time seeing your blog, but I’ll definitely be back. 🙂