Killer Roasted Pork Belly

Ok Ok. So I know when most people think pork belly, they think one thing...bacon! Well, let me tell you how fine a roasted piece of pork belly can be! It has tender muscle interlaced with wonderful melt-in-your-mouth fat. It's pretty much no different than eating a ribeye steak, only I think it's better. I'm doing this in a Japanese style and it's delicious when served with some white rice or you can do it the way I did at a recent party (see photo). I turned it into an appetizer with some Cojita cheese (a mexican cow's milk cheese, similar to feta with less "bite") and fresh scallions.

This recipe takes at least 36 hours to prepare so give yourself some time.

First we need to brine it and here is what you need. This recipe is for a 4 pound slab of belly which will feed about 5-6 people.

In a food processor combine:

2 ea serrano chili peppers
1 ea 1 1/2 inch thumb of ginger peeled
4 ea clove of garlic
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 ea sprigs of fresh thyme
3 ea sprigs of fresh oregano
2 ea star anise
2 tsp black pepper corns
1/2 cup Mirn (Japanese cooking wine found in most grocery stores and all liquor stores)
1/2 cup water

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and mixed together.

* if you don't have a food processor, use all dry herbs and spices. Mix with salt and sugar, pour in mirn and water and then proceed.

Next, wash the belly thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a sheet tray large enough to fit it and rub down both sides with brine. USE ALL OF IT! Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove from the fridge and wash off brine and pat down to dry.

Preheat oven to 325.

Place belly on a roasting rack inside of a roasting pan.

Add 1 cup of water to bottom of pan and cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove belly from oven and let rest for at least an hour before slicing.

Cut into 1/2 inch slabs and start the sauce!

Japanese Style Belly Glaze

This couldn't be easier to make and don't be afraid to experiment with your own glazes. In order for something to glaze properly it just needs the right amount of sugar ( i.e. honey or orange juice or brown sugar or wine) and/or collagen from a reduced animal stock (beef or veal usually works the best because their bones have the greatest amount of collagen). For great pork glazes, use any acidic fruit juice such as apple, grapefruit, orange, or pineapple. Reduce this with fresh herbs and spices until thick and you've got a glaze.

For this glaze, I'm using the sugar content from the Sake and Mirn to thicken. Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup Sake
1/2 cup Mirn
1/4 cup dark soy (like a mushroom soy)
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 ea sprigs of fresh thyme
3 ea scallions chopped

Combine ingredients in a sauce pot and place over low heat.

Simmer for about 30 minutes so all the flavors marry together.

Strain and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.

Place slices in pan like you would bacon. Only do about three slices at once.

Cook long enough on each side to get some caramelization on the pork.

Pour a 1/4 cup of the glaze in the hot pan and toss continuously until pork is well coated and sauce reduces a little.

We want the pork coated with the sauce but we also want a little left in the pan to pour over the rice.

remove pork and sauce from pan, wipe it out and repeat the process until all pork is coated.

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