My love of pork is no secret, and the first time I had uncured pork belly – the cut that is used to produce bacon – I thought I’d done died and gone to heaven. It quickly became my very favorite part of the pig; I order it every time I find it on a menu (which, unfortunately, isn’t very often). However, I had never cooked it, simply because I’ve never seen it for sale – I even asked our butcher for some, but all of the pork belly that comes through their abattoir is made into bacon.
So when we purchased our last pastured hog, I decided to sacrifice some of our bacon – two whole pounds of it, in fact – and asked for 2 one-pound pieces of uncured pork belly. They looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but they did it. And it was SO worth it; although both pieces sat in my freezer for some time (one is still there) waiting for a time when it would just be me and Beloved for dinner (there was no way I was going to waste this on a picky teenager), I do not for one minute regret passing up those two pounds of bacon. This dish was just wonderful.
It is also ridiculously easy, although you need to make sure you have three hours to spare (it is, after all, slow roasted). I’ve included directions for scoring the pork if you have a piece with the skin still attached, although mine did not, and if you don’t wish to use wine, you can substitute a good quality chicken stock and it will still be very, very good. Oh, and the purple stuff it’s resting on in the second photo is pureed purple cauliflower; it tastes just like white cauliflower, but the color is so pretty, don’t you think?
Note: The nutritional information lists this at 679 calories and 60 grams of fat per serving, which is rather disconcerting even if you are an advocate of healthy animal fats (that’s just a LOT of calories for a 4 ounce serving of something). However, this is overstated – probably by quite a bit – because the recipe is calculating the calories and fat of the raw pork belly. Much of the fat is rendered out, and poured off, of the final dish.
Slow Roasted Pork Belly
1 pound pork belly
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
8 cloves garlic clove, peeled
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Place the onion, carrots and garlic in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan. Combine the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and thyme in a small bowl.
Place the pork belly on a clean cutting board, skin side up if applicable; score the skin diagonally deep into the fat without penetrating the meat (scoring is unnecessary if the cut is skinless). Rub the spice mixture over the pork, and place it fat side up on the bed of vegetables in the dish.
Roast the pork belly for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F. Roast for another 30 minutes; pour off any accumulated fat and add the wine; return to the oven for another 2 hours, basting every 20 minutes with the liquid in the pan.
Remove the pork belly to the cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing, Serve with the roasted vegetables, if desired.
Nutrition (per serving): 679 calories, 60.4g total fat, 81.7mg cholesterol, 1007.3mg sodium, 461.4mg potassium, 11.5g carbohydrates, 2.3g fiber, 3.9g sugar, 11.9g protein.
Posted in participation of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday