Pork belly is a thing of beauty. Its so amazing and so perfect that there just aren’t words to describe the luscious ratio of fat to meat and what happens to it as heat slowly melts the fat and tenderizes the flesh so that it peels apart with the most gentle pressure of a fork. Its just magical.
The belly of the pig is where American bacon comes from— it is essentially just bacon before it goes through its process of becoming bacon. It is the Beyonce to bacon’s Rihanna. We all love Rihanna — she’s sexy, fun, loud and easy to dance to and be shocked by. But Beyonce is all talent and hard work — no flash and controversy, just an incredibly perfect foundation. I love bacon, its amazing, delicious, salty and crispy and I want to eat it every weekend for brunch, but pork belly is the unfiltered, unadulterated perfect version of pork.
The best part about pork belly is that its actually a really inexpensive cut of meat and easy to prepare… which you’d never know from the ridiculously high prices restaurants charge for it. Now, I still go out and pay stupid amounts of money for it at some restaurants where the preparation is so interesting and unique that I have no idea how I would duplicate it, but when it comes to a simple roasted pork belly…I prefer to just do that at home on a random Monday night.
The key here is to find a cut of pork belly that has as much meat as possible. Trust me, there’ll still be a lot of fat on it, but you want to make sure thats not all you’re eating. So don’t be shy about asking the person behind the meat counter (or preferably your butcher) to dig around until they find the perfect meaty cut. I also prefer to make mine without crackling since that complicates the process so I ask my butcher to cut off the tougher skin and just let the fat get crispy.
- 2 pounds of meaty pork belly
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- flaky sea salt to finish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a small bowl mix together the sugar and all of the spices.
- If you don't want crackling on your pork belly then, using a small sharp knife, cut off the tough skin at the top of the pork belly. You do this by lifting a corner and then making small sharp cuts along the underside of the skin so that it lifts off. I suggest asking a butcher to do this when you buy it.
- If you do want crackling then, using a small sharp knife, make small incisions going through the fat (but not piercing the meat) all over the skin of the pork belly. They should be just ¼ inch apart.
- Rub the pork belly very liberally, with the sugar and spice mixture and allow to sit out for 15 min. Take any of the mixture that didn't stick to the pork belly and rub it back on again.
- Line the inside of a pan with tin foil, place a wire rack into the pan and lay the pork belly onto the wire rack.
- Cook the pork belly at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 300 and cook for about 90 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes. before cutting.