Friends in a nearby community own a piggery. Check out my post on that before you continue reading this recipe.
During this past year, I had one of their pigs butchered and placed in my freezer. There is not much that compares with home-grown local pork. The meat cutter included quite a few packages of pork belly. In the South, it was called “sow belly.” Another term is “green bacon,” because it’s really bacon that hasn’t been cured yet.
Whatever you want to call it, I’ve used pieces of it in greens or dried beans, but when I happened to read of another way to cook pork belly, I knew I had to try it.
The picture above is not very clear because I find it difficult to get a picture of a hot dish without the steam clouding over my camera. But I think you can still see (and maybe even smell) how wonderful it turned out.
The recipe I found called for rubbing down the pork belly with ¼ cup kosher salt and ¼ cup sugar. I used half that amount of salt (sea salt), but when we ate it, it was still too salty for our tastes. Next time I want to try even less salt (it does need a little), and use brown sugar instead of white.
After rubbing the sugar-salt mixture all over the pork belly, put it in a big bowl, cover it tightly, and place in the refrigerator overnight – at least 6 hours but no more than 24.
When ready to bake, discard the liquid that has accumulated in the bowl. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
My suggestion is to line your pan with foil and coat it with a canola spray. I forgot to do that, but I won’t forget again!
Bake with fat side up for an hour, basting it periodically during the cooking time.
Turn the oven down to 250 degrees F. and cook for another hour or a little more. Lift the belly onto a platter and let it cool.
The recipe I read said to wrap it in foil and put it in the refrigerator until it was chilled and firm, but I didn’t do that. I cut it in half and dished it directly onto two plates with steamed fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
I discarded the juice, but people who aren’t watching their fat intake could make a gravy out of it. This is a meat dish I plan on making over and over, as long as my packages of pork belly last.
Now if I can just find a recipe for a pig’s head….!
A hui hou!