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Pork Belly! Getting started!

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We're having a party. The assignment is to cook something you have never cooked before.

I'm a foodie and experienced home cook but have never cooked pork belly (amazing, huh!) So that's what I want to do. I am looking for suggestions or what to cook and any techniques and tips.

Some parameters:

- Eight guests

- Not too beginner-level. While I am a pork belly virgin, I'm an experienced cook who likes a challenge.

- Needs to be gluten-free since one of the guests is celiac.

- Needs to be delicious and hopefully, unusual and interesting. Spectacular, even

Thoughts? Ideas?

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  1. Gordon Ramsay has a good Pressed Pork Belly recipe done over two days ...excellent crispy skin and presentation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h_rVo...

    1. There are a million recipes out there and being an experienced cook, I'm sure you'll come up with something unusual and interesting. However, what I will say about pork belly is that I and most people I've served it to MUCH prefer a two-step approach of braising and then crisping. Pork belly that is stirfried or cooked with any other quick method tends to be tough and rubbery, but braising alone leaves the fat and skin flabby and unappetizing.

      Whenever I make pork belly, I start with a whole one (or a large whole piece) and braise it until very tender - overnight in a 200 degree oven works perfectly. I then refrigerate the braised belly for a day or so to allow it to firm up a little bit - it's easier to slice into smaller pieces that way. Then I do whatever I want to do to crisp it - you can cube it and deep fry, slice and saute or broil, whatever. Cooked this way, quite a bit of the fat renders out, and what's left has an appealing crispy/melty texture as opposed to being flabby or chewy.

      My most recent pork belly adventure was braised, then sliced and grilled, then glazed with a maple-sriracha glaze. I almost burned down the house (grilling pork belly over an open fire=BAD idea) but it was still delicious (if charred) and adored by everyone. I'll probably go back to deep frying next time!

      1. I'll throw this at you. Just got a flyer from Farmland with a recipe for Smoked Pork Belly Taco. Corn tortillas so I think that's gluten free? Anyway it has a coffee-chile rub, and then a "Mexican Slaw Topping" that involves pineapple, cabbage, radishes, jalapeno, and a few other things. Served with the belly sliced into bacon-like strips, with slaw under and some crumbed cotija cheese on top. If you want I will give you more details. I've never made pork belly myself but loved it at restaurants, so saving this for someday when I see them on sale at the local grocery. That day may never come, but I'm the optimistic sort.

        1. The Momofuku recipe for pork belly Ssam is great. Serve it with rice, lettuce leaves and the sauce and its perfect. No wheat anywhere in the recipe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bkeats

            Just wanted to point out that the Momofuku bo ssam is make with pork shoulder, rather than pork belly. On the other hand, their steam buns are made with pork belly. Both are delicious! :)

          2. Dan, over at www.thefoodinmybeard.com has done it several ways.

            http://www.thefoodinmybeard.com/cgi-b...

            There are 5 recipes right there, but even better it's a primer on how to cook pork belly various ways for whatever dish you decide to make.

            Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jjjrfoodie

              The PBLT on that site has my mouth watering. That looks incredibly tasty, will have to try that recipe sometime.

            2. Do you have to order the belly from a butcher or do you order online. I have never seen it in a store.

              6 Replies
              1. re: travelerjjm

                That's what I was wondering, they have all kinds of pork products at the supermarket but no bellies.

                1. re: redfish62

                  Depends on where you live. I can find pork belly relatively easily in my local supermarkets, but I live in an area of Queens with very large Asian and Latino populations. In a small midwestern town, I imagine you'd have to order it, or at the very least seek out a Latino market (if there is one).

                2. re: travelerjjm

                  You should ask the meat manager or butcher in your local supermarket or local butcher. The supermarkets in my area charge $3.49-4.99 per pound and are readily available. I always request the full slab with spare ribs attached when they they go on sale for 2.49/lb. It works out to about $13-15 per slab, but I get the added benefit of the ribs for Barbecue or Sunday Gravy,

                  1. re: travelerjjm

                    I'm in the Bay Area and we are blessed with many Asian markets. Pretty much all of them have pork belly for about $4 a pound.

                    1. re: travelerjjm

                      We get it at Asian grocery stores.

                      I always fall back to Martha Stewarts recipe, and it comes out delicious, but takes some time.
                      http://www.marthastewart.com/317700/s...

                      1. re: travelerjjm

                        It's not common in grocery stores, though I often find it as "side-pork" at Uwajimaya.

                      2. Honestly it's hard to go wrong by just scoring the skin, rubbing a good amount of coarse salt into the skin, and roasting. Delicious.

                        1. In her book "Easy Chinese Cooking", Bee Yinn Low has a recipe "Crispy Roast Pork Belly" that sounds really great (and the picture looks good too!). I'm working my way through the book and this is on the "soon to be tried" list.

                          The recipe is also on her website
                          http://rasamalaysia.com/pork-belly-re...

                          1. A couple of years ago, the NYTimes reader's recipe of the year was "red-braised belly pork Shanghainese style". It is delish if you can get black cardamon and red fermented bean curd.

                            1. Pork belly porchetta. Wrap it around a chunk of ├ęchine (neck). Easily serves 8, gluten free, delicious.

                              1. I would just roast it - we probably roast more pork belly than any other meat.

                                Delicious just simply cooked but you can enhance it to fit round the style of the remainder of the meal by giving the flesh a rub of something - say fennel seeds and crushed garlic, or a Chinese mix of hoisin sauce, garlic, rice wine and soy sauce. Or even your preferred BBQ rub.

                                Make sure you don't get it on the skin which you need to be crisp (so start the roast at a high temperature for 30 minutes to get that going). You need to score the skin if your butcher hasnt already done this.

                                1. Wow. Thanks, everyone. What great replies, so many choices. I've elected to do a slow roast from Jamie Oliver, and will include some aspects from the Gordon Ramsay video fourunder suggested. I am so looking forward to this.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MRubenzahl

                                    perhaps too late now, but ruhlman's pork belly confit is a thing of beauty.

                                  2. "Roast" restaurant in London (above the borough market) makes a specialty of roast pork belly. It's fabulous. The chef scores the skin, then salt & peppers the back side. He rolls it up with sage leaves inside. When it's done it comes out with extraordinary crispy skin with a tender interior. They serve it with mashed local potatoes and applesauce from local apples. Wow!
                                    The attached photos are 1.) the plate at Roast. 2.) the pork belly roll in the kitchen at Roast 3.) What happened when I tried to make it at home. I couldn't get the skin crispy enough, but it tasted great.

                                     
                                     
                                     
                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: flueln

                                      "I couldn't get the skin crispy enough"

                                      Turn your oven up to maximum and give it 30 minutes at the beginning, then trun the heat down to your normal roasting temperature. Failing that, remove the skin after cooking and finish it under the grill.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Thanks. Actually that's pretty much what the chef at Roast told me to do, I just don't seem to have done it right, some how.

                                        1. re: flueln

                                          You can check into some other techniques.....like using baking soda and boiling water to scald the skin. Along with punching holes in the skin....it makes for a very nice crispy skin.

                                          http://www.saveur.com/gallery/Crispy-...

                                          With using the broiler, or grill, you have to be careful not to burn and get black spots. If you do not serve the skin,or cracklings with the meat......you can crisp the skin with a little oil or fat in a pan and blister the skin....and make it crispier at the same time. I use that method sometimes with the skin from Picnic Shoulders.

                                          1. re: flueln

                                            The chef at Roast knows what he's doing with meat. Try it again.

                                            Make sure the skin is really dry and perhaps try a sprinkle of sea salt before putting it in the oven.

                                            Good luck.

                                      2. A little late to the party (OP already decided on the dish - hope to hear back, MRube!), but there was an article awhile back in the Mtl Gazette about a chef smackdown with pork belly. Roast Pork Belly with Onions and Parsley-Mustard Sauce was the winner. I made this dish 3 times since, and its a winner everytime; crispy skin, tender decadent interior, wow factor, the works!
                                        http://www.montrealgazette.com/Chef+S...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: porker

                                          A BIG THANKS for posting that porker. Both recipes look good.