Thanks to its complex flavor and rich texture, pork belly is a versatile cut of meat that can be prepared many different ways. It can be slow roasted, braised, confit, cured, and smoked. Most pork belly will arrive vacuum-sealed and likely frozen. Make sure to store them away in the freezer, and when you’re ready to cook, remove your pork belly to the fridge to thaw overnight.
Lay the slab fat-side up on a cutting board and dry it off with a paper towel. After, score the belly with a sharp knife, cutting a few diagonal lines across the fat of the belly going one way. Repeat going the other way, creating a diamond pattern in the fat. It is best to make the cuts shallow so as to avoid cutting into the meat.
We at Eugene & Co. prefer to confit it. Here’s how to confit pork belly:
To prepare the pork belly, we lightly cure it for about 24 hours in a mixture of brown sugar, salt, and spices. We then submerge the belly in rendered duck fat and cook it at a very low heat for roughly four to five hours, until it is incredibly tender. Since confiting is a form of preserving, the finished belly can last up to several months as long as it is fully submerged in the fat it was cooked in. For a fresh spring take, we top off our pork belly confit by mixing in carrot puree, English and sugar snap pea ragout and pea tendrils. For warmer weather, apples are a classic pairing to help to bring out the rich aromas of the belly. Since pork belly is a fatty piece of meat, it is nice to pair it with an acidic component like our Apple Ragout, which cuts through the fat a bit. I also love pairing pork belly with roasted turnips and braised hearty greens like kale, chard, and collards.
To truly wow your wintertime guests, take a cue from Eugene & Co.'s Chef Jeff Shields and transform your finished confit into a belly-warming porchetta.