Monday, April 19, 2010

Crispy Pork Belly

I became super excited when I made my visit to Bunzel's Meat Market, 8415 W. Burleigh St, Milwaukee, WI, that the butcher had a nice piece of pork belly. Recipes started scrolling through my head and I could hardly contain myself. The butcher explained his love for crispy pork belly so I thought I would give that a good try.

Look at the layers of meat-fat-meat-skin. Oh that is beautiful!

I started out by brining the pork belly.

Twelve black peppecorns, juniper berries, cloves, three bay leaves, cup of granulated sugar and kosher salt all mixed into 2 quarts of water.

I brought the brine to a boil to dissolve the sugar and the salt. The aromas of juniper, cloves, and bay leaves were quite pleasing.

Let the brine come to room temperature to cool. It should take 4-5 hours. I placed my pork belly in a large plastic sealable bag and poured the cooled brine over it. I let it brine for three days in the refridgerator.

After the brine time, I took it out of the refridgerator and gave it a good cold water wash down and patted it dry. I left it in the fridge overnight to dry some more.

To achieve nice crispiness on the skin, you need to score the rind and place salt into the cuts and on the rind. The salt will dry out water and fat while cooking which results in more crisp and tastiness.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the pork belly in the upper third of the oven and roast for 30 minutes. The skin will bubble and start to darken. After 30 minutes, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and roast for another hour to hour and a half. When cooking time is complete and the skin isn't crisp enough, you can broil it for a few minutes. Take it out of the oven and let rest 15-30 minutes.

I was happy with the crisp level of the belly. It had a good color while I'll manage not to burn it too bad. I know it is important to let the meat rest after cooking but I have little patience during this time. I wanted to cut right in and start to devour.

Crispy pork belly can go well with most dishes. You can add some Asian influence to the dish or add it to a nice salad. I wanted to feature the pork only so I just dipped them in some soy sauce (more sodium...) and enjoyed the perfect balance of fat and meat. I know it is cliche but this was one of those meals where the fatty juice literally rolled down my chin. The crisp is a great texture combined with the melting fat and meat. I over salted the pork belly just a bit before roasting. It was maybe a bit too salty for my taste.

It was an involved process that took about 4 days to finish but if you serve pork belly at a gathering that has some carnivores, it will definitely please the crowd.