For the love of pork…

Porkbelly

I knew I was pushing it when I bought a slab of pork belly from our local butcher shop. The “hungry” hubby does not like the fat or skin of any kind of meat at all. This is usually a perfect arrangement because there are no contentions over crispy chicken skin and crispy fat pieces from lamb or steaks – they are all mine for the taking. But the sight of pieces of pork belly, which are easily the lardiest part of the pig, cooking in a large vat of simmering fat – now that’s well uhm – pushing it, right?

            Pork belly is what bacon is made from. So there is not much difference fat-wise to eat several strips of bacon than having it in the form of deep-fried succulent pork belly cutlets. Both are equally sinful but I infinitely prefer the latter preparation.

            Charcuterie is the art of preserving meat either by salting, smoking or curing. My favorite among these is the confit de canard otherwise known as duck confit. An excellent book on this subject is Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polycn. I couldn’t describe the profound interest I have in the curing of duck and of pork – two of my favorite meats. The process of charcuterie transforms their meat and fat into extremely succulent and tasty fare.  I have also gotten obsessive about making pork belly confit. The best way to prepare the pork belly confit for serving is to deep-fry it. I have just gotten over my fear of copious amount of hot oil so this possibility has become more of a reality –- I finally made the confit this weekend!

            

Porkbelly2

           Ruhlman was right. You can’t get it anymore less fatty so you might as well go all-out with deep-frying. This method creates a uniform crust with the fat becoming so meltingly tender that it literally dissolves on your tongue.

          The confit was crispy on the outside, the meat falling apart but it was the fat that held the concentration of flavors derived from all the spices — a perfect alchemy of complex tastes that explodes with flavor with each bite.

           I served this with some mustard and balsamic vinegar which exquisitely complements every bit of this artery-clogging number. It is very good served with a crusty baguette but my Asian roots had me eating this with a plate of steaming white rice.

Jim Drohman’s Pork Belly Confit

            Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman

Dry Cure

            2 tbs        freshly ground black pepper

            ½ tbs       ground cinammon

            ½ tsp       ground clove

            ¼ tsp       ground allspice

            3              bay leaves crushed

            10            springs fresh thyme

            2 ounces   kosher salt

            1 tsp         pink salt

Other Ingredients            

            6 lbs pork belly, skin removed and cut into 1x 3 inch chunks

            Rendered pork or duck fat as needed

            Dry white wine

            Canola oil or rendered duck or pork fat for deep-frying

Combine all the cure ingredients in a bowl and stir to distribute the seasonings evenly.

Toss the pork with the cure to coat evenly. Pack into a nonreactive container and cover with white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

Preheat oven to 250 °F

Remove the pork from the cure and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Place pork in an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven and cover with the rendered fat. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 to 3 hours.

      Remove the pork from the oven and cool to room temperature in the fat. (If you simply can’t wait to eat this succulent bundle when it is just finished its confit – we highly recommend chilling all confit, which intensifies the juicy tenderness of the meat – you can pour off and reserve the fat, then return the pan to the stovetop over high heat until the meat is nicely browned). Refrigerate the pork in the pan it was cooked in or transfer to another container and add the fat; the pork should be completely submerged in the fat. Refrigerate until completely chilled, or for up to 2 months.

To serve, remove the pork from the refrigerator, preferably a few hours ahead. Remove the pork from the fat, and wipe off the excess. In a deep-heavy pot, heat the oil for deep-frying 350 to 375. Deep-fry the pork belly until crispy and heat through, about 2 minutes if it was at room temperature. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Cooking Notes:

            This was extremely easy to make. I really like the flavors in this confit and might not make much variations except maybe experiment with garlic and star anise or even five-spice. I forgot to cut the pieces into 1×3 inch chunks so I had to cut them before deep-frying.  I don’t know how this affected the end product. I guess I just have to make the pork belly confit again to find out!

           

            Being the half-cooked Chinese girl that I am, I totally forgot about Chinese New Year. Coincidentally, it is the Year of the Pig. This might explain why I was so adamant to cook this deep-fried pork belly this past weekend. Well, at least I celebrated it even without being aware of it. Kung hei fat choi!!!

22 thoughts on “For the love of pork…

  1. Oh, suffer, suffer make it again!
    This seems to be another book sweeping over the blogging world. Guess I'll have to take a look.
    Gorgeous picture.

  2. OH MY!!! I love duck confit, and I love pork, but I have never had pork confit…this looks like something I would fight tigers for! Thank you for posting this recipe!

  3. I am really interested in confie-ing (not a word, I suspect) different meats and this has given me a great starting post (I think I might the Ruhlman book too!). Looks delicious!

  4. hey Veron, Happy Chinese New Year to you too !! How many "red envelopes" have you received or given out now ? 🙂 I just realised you're cantonese hehe 🙂 Ok, I could imagine how the pork taste like, this also reminds me of the chinese Roast Pork, without the fatty crispy skins hehe, isn't it not, ? yumss..oo..that reminds me of Chinese smoked ham, I'm cooking up some soup as we speak, should be ready by tomorrow hehe, thanks for sharing, cheers ! 🙂

  5. Thanks Helen – I'm with you on the crispy fried stuff :).
    If you like preserved meats, Tanna, definitely get ruhlman's book. It's the definitive guide to Charcuterie.
    oooh joey I'm sure you'll like the taste of pork belly confit…imagine crisped fat and juicy pork…
    Thanks freya — definitely try to make cofit…it could be messy with all the fat involved but it is totally worth it.
    Hi Patricia – yeh I have to hide the monitor from my hubby too so he doesn't get any ideas 🙂
    Lisa dear now why do you want to stay away from something as delicious as pork?
    Brilynn – if you can make bacon , pork belly is a walk in the park.
    Hi MeltingWok – the pork belly meat shares the same texture as Chinese roast pork (tsa-siao) but the taste is totally different. ooh…love chinese smoked ham.

  6. MW – my bad…you are right roast pork is "siew yoke" …I don't remember anymore the taste of roast pork so I'm not sure if they taste the same with the confit…:( .

  7. Veron, I've had confit pork belly before, as is and deep fried to get the crust. They were both delicious so I know how you enjoyed this. I think star anise and garlic will go nicely as I've used them in pork belly stews.

  8. Veronica, only recently I cooked using pork belly for the first time. I have to say that despite my worries the final result was delicious meat, succulent and full of flavour. Yours look amazing.

  9. Veron, you're not missing out on "siu yoke" (chinese roast pork)at all. In fact, your confit tasted v/similar to SY, and your recipe have some major ingredients used in SY, except minus the thymes, add the chinese 5 spice, bravo !! 🙂

  10. Hi Veronica,

    I know its an old post and everything but I have many many questions (I intend to do the pork in a few hours)

    Questions:

    1. The wine. Does it really help with the taste? I imagine that without it the curing time is smaller. Thomas Kelller in the Bouchon makes pretty much the same recipe without the wine (he makes a "green salt" only)

    2. The rendered fat. I got some pork belly fat and what I should do is render it just before getting the pork on the oven? (I never rendered fat and never seen it)

    3. I bought not belly but some other part of the pork (don`t know the name in english) but it is on the back of the pork (not loin) and has a layer of fat, kind of like a round eye but flatter ant the fat only in one half – its a beatiful part) Will it work, do you believe i should make changes to the recipe?

    4. I dont plan on deep frying it. My plen is to just heat it and serve. Do you think this will work?

    5. No pink salt here, do you think it will work? I imagine it wont get so pink, but just that.

    Thank you very much and very very nice blog you have in here!

  11. I know this is not your job and …. but if you would be so kind to answer me (before I make the mistakes) I promiss you I will some how pay back!

  12. lovely recipe – im a big fat lover too – and my wife sounds like your husband- so its the same here no arguments over the crispy fatty tasty bits….
    im going to make this recipe – tweak it a little and put it up on my blog….thanks for the inspiration
    – lets munch!

  13. Pingback: momofuku pork buns | Kitchen Musings

  14. Pingback: The Roosevelt gets it | Kitchen Musings

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