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Pork Belly cooking method

Posted by Plates 
Pork Belly cooking method
April 19, 2018 11:53PM
Does anyone have a tried and true way of getting the meat to be tender and the crackling at the top.

I tried Chelsea Winters' recipe - [chelseawinter.co.nz] but the meat was chewy and a dry. The only thing I did not do perhaps was to ensure the meat was not exposed, but was not really sure how to achieve that.

Thank you
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 12:39AM
Roasted Pork Belly

Dry the skin out in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, score it, then rub sea salt and crushed fennel seeds into it.

Turn oven on to 220 C.

In a baking dish or small roasting tin place a layer of herbs - thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaves, tarragon, rosemary (not too much rosemary as it is strong) - whatever you have handy. Slice 3 large onions in half horizontally and place skin down on the herbs to form a trivet.

Sit the belly on top of the onions, skin up.

Pour in some cider, beer or wine about half way up the onions, being careful not to wet the skin.
You may need to add a bit more during the cooking, don’t let it dry out.

Bake for about 20mins to start the crackle, then turn it right down to about 140 C and slow cook for about 2hrs. Check liquid periodically - you want to end up with about a cm in the bottom of the pan.

If the crackling is not completely puffed turn the oven on to grill and give it a few minutes to finish off. Watch like a hawk as it can burn quickly.

Remove pork to a warm plate and keep warm (do not cover). Remove large pieces of herb stalk then push the rest of the contents of the pan through a mould or a coarse sieve. Leave to settle for 5 minutes and pour off any excess fat. Check seasoning, warm up the sauce and serve separately in a jug.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 04:58AM
Will have to give yours a go TPANDAV, sounds divine!

I have cooked Chelsea's recipe so many times and never had a fail with the meat (the crackling, yes, because I forget to keep an eye on it)....could it have been your pork or is the thermometer in your stove not working properly?
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 05:26PM
To get good crackling you need fat. If the piece of belly you are using is too lean, the crackling will not work....and yes I know that belly is “supposed” to be a fatty cut, but cheap pork is often VERY lean, and frankly, nasty.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2018 05:27PM by catz.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 06:04PM
Thanks TPANDAV for that recipe - will give it a go next time
Griz, the recipe had very good feedback in the comments - I cannot help but question the 4hr cook time at 130c given the recipe above has 140 for 2 hours.

The crackling turned out fine, it was crisp and bubbly etc, it was just the flesh that was the issue.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 06:24PM
Whenever I've cooked it I've followed the cook times/temps (although they seem a bit fiddly to me!) and it's always been moist and melt in the mouth tender.

BTW I always forget to get the pork organised the day before to sit in the fridge overnight, so I often use my hair drier to dry the skin out for the crackling, that works well too, if you are short on time.
J1
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 06:39PM
Looking at Chelsea's recipe, it's one I know not to do now. We've cooked a lot of pork belly over the last few years. The best method has moisture for the meat, like TPANDAV's, and like she says, don't let it dry out.

Instead of putting the meat in the moisture, you can also put the pork belly on a rack sitting above an oven tray (with sides) full of water. Again, don't let it dry out.

Instead of starting off with a high heat and then lowering it (like TPANDAV's recipe), you can also do the opposite - start at 150°C, then turn the oven up to 200°C and finish off for about 30 minutes or until you’ve got a nice crispy crackling top – but keep an eye on it as it can burn easily.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 07:27PM
I don't think the oven temperature is all that critical actually, as a good thick piece of fatty pork is very forgiving. More important is the quality of the meat: it needs to be a thick slab with many layers and a decent layer of fat under the skin.

I only buy free range pork, and I've noticed recently that some of the cuts sold as pork belly are quite thin and lean, suitable for other cooking methods but not to be roasted with crackling. There are also cuts sold as "belly cut" which are actually shoulder, and while they are good meat they are not suitable either if you want crackling.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 08:19PM
Perhaps the cut was too thin then. First time, so have nothing to compare it to. It was 1.1kg. What would be a suitable thickness in terms of cm?

It was tasty enough, just the flesh was too dry and chewy.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 09:23PM
It's the fat melting through the meat that keeps it moist, not enough fat = drier meat. I don't believe it is necessary to have moisture under the meat for moist meat, if it is cooked slowly enough and the fat renders through the meat properly, however I do use a similar technique for chicken/turkey, so am not averse to the idea at all.
I've also accidentally picked up belly cut, and it definitely wasn't the same.
Regardless of the weight of the meat I'd be looking for a piece that is around 5cm thick or even more, with good layers of fat.
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 20, 2018 11:23PM
Griz, it definitely was not 5 cm......I would say an inch more or less.

How do you buy a good cut - what do you look for?
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 21, 2018 12:19AM
Here's a random image of the pork belly of my dreams...
Attachments:
open | download - porkbelly.png (647.3 KB)
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 21, 2018 09:24PM
Interesting to see how this pork belly has been scored!
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 23, 2018 10:19PM
so that image has three layers of fat and three layers of meat with the skin. Is that typical of what you should buy?
Re: Pork Belly cooking method
April 23, 2018 10:49PM
As I said, it's the pork belly of my dreams! An ideal. But in real life just look for the thickest piece you can find, with a decent layer of fat directly under the skin.
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