While it’s always nice to eat healthy, sometimes you just have to indulge your decadent side. Today we wanted to share an incredibly decadent meal from a rather cheap cut of meat: pressed pork belly. This is a large, fatty cut of the pig that we usually use to make bacon here in the US, but typically in Asian countries is served as large cubes. It’s particularly popular in Chinese and Korean cuisine, but we wanted to see what we could do with a little European influence.
To make a fantastic pressed pork belly, we had to cook the cut of meat a few times. First, we baked the pork covered. The trick here is to raise it up off the pan using garlic bulbs: this prevented the pork from drying out but still gave us plenty of drippings to make a great gravy. Once the pork was cooked, we placed it in a casserole dish, placed another casserole dish on top and weighed it down, letting the pork cool in the fridge. Finally, we took the pork out, cut it into cubes, and baked uncovered in the oven to give us a perfectly crispy skin. Keep reading below for this delightful, decadent recipe!
Pressed Pork Belly
(makes 6-8 servings)
- 2.5 lbs pork belly
- 3 heads garlic, halved horizontally
- 1 onion, sliced
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 sprigs thyme
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Lay the pork belly flat on a cutting board skin side up. Score the skin evenly in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp paring knife. Turn the belly skin side down and cut a slit through the thick en of pork to open it up (only do this if the pork isn’t of even thickness). Rub the pork belly over with olive oil, then pat evenly with sea salt and black pepper all over.
- Place the garlic, halved side up on a lightly oiled roasting tray. Add the sliced onion to the pan. Lay the thyme sprigs over the garlic, then lay the pork belly, skin side up over the garlic. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more salt. Add 1/4 cup white wine and apple cider around the pork. Cover the pan tightly with foil then bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, baste the pork with juices, then return to the oven, uncovered, for about 1/2 hour to an hour until the meat is tender. Continue to baste the pork occasionally with the pan juices.
- Transfer the pork to a clean, rimmed roasting dish. While still warm, place another tray on top of the pork and weigh down with a few heavy tins (weights work nicely, as do particularly large cans of food). Cool completely, then chill for at least four hours or overnight in the fridge to set its shape.
- Pour off any excess oil from the original roasting tray and place over high heat. Deglaze the tray with the remaining white wine, scraping the bottom and crushing the heads of garlic with a wooden spoon to release more juices. Boil the liquid until reduced by half, then add the chicken stock and bring back to a boil until reduced and thickened. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing down on the garlic pulp to push the roasted garlic and onion through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Once the pork belly is done chilling in the fridge, preheat the oven to 500F. Cut the pressed pork into individual portions and pat the skin with a dry paper towel. Place the pork squares, fat side up, in a roasting try and drizzle once more with a little olive oil and sea salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Let the pork rest 5 minutes before serving with the gravy.
Recipe adapted from Carnivore and Vegetarian