We have been a little bit obsessed by pork belly since we went to a food festival and tasted a teensy-weensy bite of a pork belly dish created by the chefs at Craftsteak. That was almost two years ago, but the memory has stuck with us so much that every time we see pork belly on a menu, we order it, and we watch anything on Food Network or Cooking Channel that even mentions pork belly.
What is pork belly? Pork belly is a boneless cut of fresh pork derived from the belly of a pig. It is a very fatty cut of meat in fact, but when it is cooked correctly, that fat is rendered down and melts into the most delicious thing you've ever tasted. (In our opinion, anyway.)
When we watched that long-ago demonstration by the chefs at Craftsteak, we jotted down notes on what to do. Looking back, they were almost indecipherable, but we decided to go with the flow and attempt our own version of pork belly based on theirs. How bad could it be? It's bacon, for goodness' sake! The most trouble we had was finding the stuff! It was difficult, but finally, we spotted a pound of it at a Portuguese butcher shop in Ludlow, Massachusetts. We (of course) bought it, and our plan was set into motion.
The elusive pork belly
Into the refrigerator for five days it goes
Rinsed and starting to brown
Hot out of the oven
Sugar and Spice Pork Belly
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 pound pork belly
oil for frying
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt and five-spice. Score the skin of the pork belly, then rub all of the spice mixture over the entire piece of pork belly. Wrap tightly in cheesecloth and seal in an zip-bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for 3-5 days. Remove pork belly from bag and cheesecloth, rinse off spice mixture., and dry. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and brown the pork belly on all sides. Wrap the pork belly in aluminum foil and cure in oven set at 275 degrees for 2 1/2-3 hours. When ready to serve, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, brown on all sides, and make sure the fat is cooked through. Enjoy in small doses,as a snack or appetizer.