There has been a lot of talk about uncured pork belly on the forum recently, so I decided to throw out this post just for fun. Since it involves braising, I decided to stick it in the nose-to-tail section as a lot of the recipes here involve braising.
Braised pork belly is absolutely lovely. Restaurants often remove the skin, I guess to cater to the low-fat crowd. But if you eat braised pork belly with the skin removed, you are seriously missing the best part.
Start off with a nice 3 - 4 lb section of pork belly. Skin on, please! I cut the pork belly section into 3 pieces so that it would fit into my braising dish nicely, but you could leave it whole if you want. My rub was kosher salt, mustard powder, mustard seeds, sugar, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, minced garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. The recipe I mostly followed is from the Food Network. Pat the rub all over the belly (except for the skin, it won't stick there anyway), and let the belly rest in the refrigerator at least 8 hours and up to a day or two.
Here is the belly with the rub, picture is with the skin side down. I think this section of the belly might have come from closer to the shoulder; it was quite meaty and didn't have the typical striations I associate with pork belly.
For the braising liquid I sauteed some onion, fennel, and garlic in a little olive oil. Deglazed with white wine, then added in chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, and a little stone-ground mustard. Nestled in the pork belly skin side down, and braised for 3 hours, flipping the pork belly over a couple of times. Don't add in any additional salt, because between the rub and the stone-ground mustard, there is already plenty of salt in there.
Here it is in the braising liquid.
And here is the belly after braising. Completely tender. The skin is helpful here in holding the belly section together so it doesn't fall apart.
You could go ahead and serve the belly just like this. But, the texture is way better if you let the belly sit in the refrigerator overnight with a weight on it to compress it into a nice sliceable form, and then reheat it before serving. Plus, you can have it made in advance this way.
Here is my belly with weights on it.
After it gets cold, you can slice it into individual servings and then reheat it gently prior to serving. I heated up the belly pieces in a 350 deg F oven for about 15 minutes, then ran them skin-side-up under the broiler for a few minutes to make the skin puffy.
Here are some individual servings of the braised pork belly after it was pressed and refrigerated overnight.
As I was feeling all frenchy, I served the braised belly with a puy lentil salad. I defatted the braising liquid after it sat in the refrigerator overnight, and then reduced down the braising liquid to use it as a sauce.
Here is the finished plated shot of the braised belly with lentil salad, and a little reduced braising sauce. Pretty much the most delicious thing I've ever eaten!
Thanks for checking out my post!