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Feb 22, 2010 09:41 AM

Any way to save already-cooked frozen pork belly?

After being overly ambitious and indulgent at the Breslin in Manhattan, we took home a completely untouched smoked pork belly dish. We didn't get a chance to eat it in the next few days so we froze it, and now we have no idea what to do with it. It was $50 so it seems like a waste to throw it away or just experiment with it, but we're not quite sure what to do with it.

Any ideas for what to do after we thaw it without completely destroying/overcooking it?

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  1. I would use it like bacon or as a sauce base. You could cut it up and use it in an omelet or saute it, add some onions, garlic and tomatoes for a quick tomato sauce.

    1. Defrost it in the fridge, then seal it in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible and reheat it in a water bath kept at about 150 F for about an hour (could be longer if it's really thick - 2 inches or more) You can accomplish this with a large stockpot on low heat on the stove (or even in the oven if yours goes down to something like 175) and a digital thermometer. It's not hard to get a stable enough water temperature to suit your needs here. You'd lose any crispiness, though you might be able to fix that with a torch, very hot pan, or broiler at the end, depending on how it's sauced.

      You could cook it covered in an oven at low temperature for a similar effect, but can have more issues with texture or oxidation, and you'd have to cook it longer.

      Or as Den said, there are a lot of ways you could use it as an ingredient in other dishes.

      It would be a shame to throw away perfectly good pork belly just because you froze it.

      1. If you vacuum-sealed it before freezing you could always thaw it (still in bag) and then sous-vide it in a soup pot over lowish heat. If not, you could probably do the same - just thaw it first, stuff it into a Ziploc or Reynolds vacuum-seal bag (well worth the investment) and heat it up in a pot of simmering water. I'd say 110 degree water, maybe, for about a half hour to an hour? Just enough to heat it through without re-cooking it. If it's nice and fatty (and I'd expect most dishes from the Breslin to be just that) it shouldn't be an issue, but you can always rub a little lard over it beforehand if you're worried.

        If that doesn't work for you or it's too complicated, I'd say thaw it, chop it up, and saute it in a cast iron pan very quickly with a touch of lard or olive oil, just to put a little carmelization/char on it and to warm it through. No longer than a minute, probably. Put the chunks on a plate with a baked potato, deglaze the pan with a little red wine or apple cider and let it thicken up into a nice pan sauce. Mount with a dollop of butter and pour it on. That actually sounds like the better option (vs. sous-vide) to me.

        Either way, use it quick. Don't risk freezer burn on that baby,

        1 Reply
        1. re: sgordon

          Thanks so much for the ideas! I think I'm going to try sauteing it with the pan sauce, sounds like the simplest way to crisp it up without overcooking it.