A crispy pork belly recipe to beat all others. It’s so simple, so succulent and savory. When you take your first bite you’ll wonder where this recipe has been your whole life. Making crispy pork belly takes some time, but all good things come to those who wait. This is worth the wait. Let’s take a look why.
This crispy pork belly recipe is: Gluten Free, Paleo, Low Carb, Tender & Delicious.
The Easiest Crispy Pork Belly Recipe
When someone says that a recipe is easy, it has better truly be easy. This one is just so simple. The hardest part of this recipe is scoring the skin or fat of the pork belly (depending on whether you are going to use a skin-on or skinless belly). After that, it’s a 3 step process to culinary nirvana.
The second hardest part to this crispy pork belly recipe is giving it time to cook. It needs to cook for a while so the meat begins to tenderize. There is no real way to rush pork belly… so if you’re looking for a crispy pork belly recipe full of shortcuts, they won’t be found here. This is a simple pork belly recipe, but it needs time to become succulent and dripping with flavor. I guess it is just respect for the ingredient?
How to Cook Pork Belly
So I’m off my soapbox now. Learning how to cook pork belly can be a bit daunting. It’s a cut of pork that you don’t often see and most people don’t cook more than a couple times in their lives! Plus, pork belly is just a strange cut. It looks familiar because it is where bacon comes from, but raw pork belly feels so different from bacon in your hands. It kind of plays tricks with your head. I love it.
You can cook pork belly so many different ways. In this crispy pork belly recipe, we are going to slow roast the belly and then broil it. Pork belly also loves to be stewed and braised. I’ve seen it pressure cooked but wasn’t able to try it, so I can’t comment on the success of that method. If you use a wet method to cook the pork belly, allow the meat to cool and dry it off before browning to achieve the most color and flavor.
Pork belly is a very forgiving cut of pork due to its high fat content. There is very little chance of the meat drying out. This type of scenario allows you to par cook the pork belly too. So you can roast it for the 4 hours in the oven, allow it to cool and then refrigerate it. When you want to serve it, warm it in the oven for 30 minutes before broiling or browning and you’re good to go. This crispy pork belly recipe is flexible too!
Pork Belly vs Bacon
This is a great topic that I received lots of questions about when I was running my cooking school. Pork belly is the base ingredient that bacon is made out of. To make bacon, typically the pork belly is brined in a salty solution (with whatever spice mixture you would like) for seven to ten days. This process extracts the moisture out of the belly. From there, the brined belly is smoked in low heat for several hours. Homemade bacon is just so delicious. I should create a post for how to make it. Hopefully sometime soon.
In my opinion, slow roasted pork belly tastes better than bacon. And that’s saying something because I love bacon. The tenderness and silken texture of the pork belly fat is just impossible to recreate with other cuts of meat. Adding just a touch of salt and the herbs de provence give this pork belly out-of-this-world flavor. Now I still want bacon with my eggs, lardon on my salads but I’ll take pork belly any other time of the day.
QUICK COOKING TIP: Let’s talk for a minute about where to buy pork belly. They don’t sell them at most grocery stores anymore. If you have a local butcher, give them a call. If they don’t have any in stock they will most likely get it within a day or two. You can also order pork bellies online. You can even find them on Amazon, but you have to buy either large volume or very expensive cuts, so I’m not going to put the link here. Your best bet is your local butcher or an Asian market.
Try to get the center cut if possible, with the least amount of fat. The fat is delicious, but you want some meat in there too! When you buy the belly, don’t be afraid to inspect it before purchasing. Because it is from the belly, there are some pieces that have nipples on them (it’s just natural) but I’m not a huge fan of those pieces. If you are going to cook and consume the skin (it’s awesome), make sure that you get a piece that has clean skin. Just take a look and decide if it is something you would eat or not. The answer will come quickly, I promise.
Ok- so how about we get to this crispy pork belly recipe already…
A crispy pork belly recipe that works for both skin-on and skin-off pork belly! If you want cracklins, keep the skin on. For a more tender dish, remove and follow the same simple instructions.
- 2 LB Pork Belly with the pork fat scored in a grid pattern about ½” across the top.
- 2 TBSP Duck Fat, Rendered Bacon Fat, Lard or other cooking fat
- 1 TSP Kosher Salt
- 1/2 TSP Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 TBSP Herbs de Provence
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack inside.
After you have scored the pork belly, season the meat side with about ½ of the salt and pepper. Heat a heavy bottom pan over high heat and add in the cooking fat. When the fat is hot, carefully add in the pork belly. Allow to brown without moving for 3-5 minutes depending on the heat of your stove.
Remove the belly from the fat with some tongs and place on the wire rack with the fat side up. Take the fat from the pan and pour over the fat. You will see the scoring separate with the hot fat being poured over it.
Evenly distribute the remaining salt and pepper. Place the pork belly in the oven for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, remove the belly from the oven. Carefully pour off some of the fat into a bowl. Pour the fat back on top of the pork belly. Evenly distribute the herbs de provence over the top of the pork belly and place back in the oven for 1 more hour.
After the 4th hour, turn on the broiler in the oven. Broil the pork belly until it crisps. For skin-on pork belly, keep a close eye on the skin as it will scorch very quickly- more quickly than the skinless pork belly.
Serve hot and enjoy!
Skin-On Pork Belly Notes: Scoring the skin is not an easy task. It requires a sharp knife and a strong arm. Take your time and eventually, you will get the whole piece scored. The hardest parts are going to be where the really soft fat is under the skin. It helps to slightly roll the belly to tighten it up.
Skinless Pork Belly Notes: Removing the skin can be a bit tricky. My suggestion is to ask your butcher to remove the skin rather than trying it at home… however, if you want to try here are some tips:
1. Start from the large end with the fat side up and peel about 2″ of skin off, being careful to keep your blade right under the skin. The fat pack is thickest here, so it will be more forgiving.
2. Get out a sharp knife that is wider than the pork belly. Flip the belly so the skin side is down, parallel with your body.
3. Grab a paper towel and hold onto the skin flap with your left hand. Using your right, place the knife between the skin and the fat and begin to push the blade, separating the skin from the fat. Take your time. Sometimes it helps to pull with the paper towel hand while you work the knife around with your other hand.
4. Once you have the skin off, you can either pitch it, keep it for stock or dice it up, toss it in some hot cooking fat for some yummy cracklins.
Final thoughts on the Crispy Pork Belly Recipe:
This crispy pork belly recipe isn’t one that I would make every day. It’s a real treat though and you should enjoy every minute of pleasure it will bring you. I serve this pork belly recipe with a fresh tomato coulis. The recipe is coming up in a couple days. I love the fresh tomato flavor and how the vinegar helps to cut through the fat of the pork belly. I slice the belly to about 1/4″, give it a nice dollop of tomato coulis and the bite literally floats into my mouth. I close my eyes and just enjoy the moment. Perfection. I hope you enjoy it too.