I haven’t been able to STOP thinking about it ever since. When a meal won’t vacate my brain… it means it’s time to make it at home.
In essence, it was a simple meal. Potato pancakes (latkes) topped with a cooked egg (poached in the restaurant, fried at home) and a small helping of crisped pork belly.
Perfection on a plate!
In deconstructing the meal, I found the only obstacle in my way was my lack of knowledge and experience in the pork belly arena. I found it somewhat intimidating. Eggs I can cook… no problem there. Potato pancakes… a cinch. It was just the pork belly that stood in my way.
If you Google “how to cook pork belly”, there are many different methods of preparation that will pop up. Many people are pretty adamant on the “right” or “wrong” way of said preparations.
It’s a bit like spare rib preparation…folks are pretty vocal that their method is the BEST method. Be it bbq’d, smoked, oven or slow cooked. Some are dry (rub only) others are wet (sauced). Some are fall off the bone tender…others require a bit of a fight to remove the meat.
In a nutshell… it’s all about personal preferences. We are all entitled to “like” things our way. Simple as that.
I can count, on one hand, the number of times I’ve had pork belly. Plus, I had never prepared it at home. In settling on a cooking method, I took into account the “how” I liked pork belly. I determined I liked it crispy on the outside and tender, juicy and falling apart on the inside. A subtle seasoning is all I need… no need to mask the true flavors.
Taking my “checklist” into account… an oven roasting, after a pat-down of dry rub, was the answer for me. And it was easy. All it requires is a bit of time to cook…to encourage a tender and flavorful piece of meat.
The pork belly, when oven roasted, does take time. My 1 pound piece, took just under 3 hours… hence, the brunch. However, it can be roasted a day ahead of time, then simply crisped and warmed in a saute pan prior to serving.
Crispy, Roasted Pork Belly
Note: Number of servings will vary according to size of pork belly. My 1 lb. piece was enough to top 10-12 potato pancakes/eggs.
1 lb pork belly
12 ounce beer
For the rub:
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper (or cayenne)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 500°F. Choose a roasting pan, large enough to hold a rack and the pork belly.
In a small bowl combine all of the “for the rub” ingredients. Mix well; set aside.
Prep the pork belly by “scoring” the top (the fat surface) in a diamond pattern. This can be accomplished by cutting through the fat (about 1/4″ deep),while avoiding the meat, on a diagonal in one direction and then the other.
Evenly distribute the dry rub over the entire pork belly. Not too thick…dependent on the size of the pork belly, you may not use all of the rub.
Place in the roasting pan on a rack, fat side up. Roast in the 500°F oven until the fat is bubbly and slightly browned (medium in color), then reduce oven temperature to 350°F for 1 hour.
At the one hour mark, pour in the beer. (If your roasting pan is very large, add enough water, or more beer, until the bottom of the roasting pan has about 1/2″ of liquid.
Continue roasting another 45 minutes to an hour, or until meat is fork tender when tested. (The fork will easily slide in/out of meat without resistance). Allow meat to stand/rest 10-15 minutes before slicing into portions.
Note: Each serving size shown here is about 2″ wide and 1/2″ thick. It was the perfect portion for our taste.
Photos above: (Left) – The raw, scored pork belly. (Center) – Pork belly with dry rub. (RIght) – Pork belly fresh out of the oven, ready for carving.
4 medium russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt + salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon flour
Canola oil, for cooking
Peel and shred the potatoes (coarse). Place potato shreds in a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to drain (in sink or over a bowl) for about 15 minutes.
Press down on the potatoes to encourage excess water to drain. Place potatoes in a clean kitchen towel, roll the towel and “wring” it out to release as much water as possible. Set aside.
Beat the egg in a medium size bowl. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper and flour. Mix well.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil in a large saute/fry pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add potato mixture in about 1/2 cup servings. Use a large, flat spatula to press and form into pancakes (about 2½-3 inches in diameter). Cook until underside is well browned, 10-15 minutes. Flip and cook other side until done (another 10-15 minutes), adding a bit more oil if pan dries out. Serve.