Get in my Pork Belly!

I admit it. I just had an Austin Powers/Fat Bastard flashback. “I’m higher on the food chain. Get in my belly!” LOL

Ok, I digress. Pork belly seems to be all the rave these days. It is another cut of meat that used to be reserved for the commoners, but that the elite have found out about and want to claim as their own. It’s ok, we’ll share because we, the people, are generous that way.

This preparation method may not seem Latin inspired, but believe me when I tell you we love our fatty piggy. In Panama we eat chunks of pork that have the crunchy, crisp skin/rind, the ooey gooey fatty butter, and lightly seasoned meaty parts. It is often fried into chicharrĂłn or cooked in its own fat, preserving some of its moisture. That’s what I did with this baby. I was so excited about it too. I did  my happy piggy dance. Yep. I did.

I opted to roast it in the oven because I’m chicken and I’m afraid of the angry stove top piggy. It sizzles, sputters and splatters everywhere, me included. Not wishing to sport third degree burns, I ovened it. I started out a day ahead with a dry rub to infuse it with flavors. There isn’t a ‘recipe’ here, you can really add just about anything you like and you will end up with crazy deliciousness. Look at him, ain’t he a beaute?

Rubbed Pork Belly

Pork belly slab (this was about 4lbs)
White pepper
Sea salt
Rosemary sprigs
Fresh ginger, slivers
Garlic cloves, whole
Onions, halved

Day before prep: Since this cut includes the outer skin of the pig, you’ll want to check it for residual whiskers. I usually take the flame from a lighter to any hairs that may still be around. Trust me, you want to get rid of these, they’re not pleasant to find when you’re eating. Rinse and pat dry.

Take a pairing knife and score the slab ever so often, about 2 inches apart. Do this on both, the skin and meaty sides. Piercing the skin will allow it to stretch instead of puffing up like a balloon.

In a small bowl, combine the allspice, pepper, salt and sugar. Sprinkle half of the rosemary sprigs at the bottom of a sealable container large enough to hold the belly in a single layer.

Now rub your belly. Your pork belly, I mean. Use that salt mixture and work it into the rind and meaty sides. Don’t be afraid of the salt, you will rinse it off before cooking, so be generous. Place it rind-side up into the container it will marinate in. Then top with the remaining rosemary sprigs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day of prep: Preheat oven to 375°. Instead of using a rack, I used the vegetables to elevate the slab from the bottom of the baking sheet. I halved the onions, cut the carrots in 2-inch pieces and left the skin on the garlic cloves. I spread all of these, including more rosemary and the ginger slivers, on an aluminium lined sheet, I was thinking ahead to the cleaning stage.

Remove the pork belly from the fridge and rinse under cool water. Pat dry and lay it over the vegetables. Place it in the preheated oven and forget about it! After about 30 minutes, you’ll notice that the skin begins to develop bubbles.

I roasted this one for about 1-1/2 hours, before turning up the heat to 475° to crisp the rind. I allowed it to cook at this temperature for another 15 minutes or so, or until the skin was nicely golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Slice and see if you’re able to stay out of this. Oh my. I want more!

GET IN MY BELLY! It’s like bacon on steroids!

Cookingly yours,