Top 10 Pork Belly Recipes
From Beijing to Budapest and from the humble street vendor all the way to Michelin-starred restaurants, pork belly has fans everywhere. The variety of ingredients used by chefs to prepare it, has made it one of the most iconic dishes in almost any country. Some might say that dishes made out of pork belly aren’t really a fine dining peak of excellence, and they are right.
Pork belly dishes are, however, a way for chefs and cooks to show off what they can do with the simplest of ingredients and the most humble of canvases.
Despite being a simple ingredient, cooking pork belly is not so simple for the average home gastronome. You can’t just pick up a pork belly from the butcher, season it and just throw it on the grill Guy Fieri style and hope for the best. Happy accidents don’t happen very often, especially in the kitchen. Most of us need some help, or at least some general guide lines to follow, before letting loose our creativity. This is why we’ve scoured the internet for the best 10 pork belly recipes.
1. Roast Pork Belly
Kicking off our list is the always sensational roasted pork belly. This recipe is the “little black dress” of pork belly recipes: it’s simple and always guaranteed to get a reaction from any crowd. You’re going to need:
- 2.5kg rib-in pork belly
- 1½ tbsp sea salt flakes
- 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
- ¼ tsp crushed black peppercorns
- a drizzle of vegetable oil
- 2 onions thickly sliced
- 2 celery 2 sticks halved horizontally
- 300ml chicken stock
- 330ml dry cider
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
You’ll want to leave the pork belly in the fridge overnight, with the skin exposed, in order to get it nice and dry – the secret to crunchy skin and tender meat is a very well dried skin. After a good nights’ rest, you’ll need a sharp knife so you can score the skin, without reaching the meat, about 1 cm apart. Next, mix together 1 tbsp of the sea salt, the thyme leaves, and the black pepper.
Rub the mixture over the meat, not the skin, and then chill the whole thing for 1 hour, uncovered. Remove it from the fridge and let it stand for an hour to return to room temperature. Then rub the rest of the salt on the skin, making sure it gets in the scores. Also, drizzle some oil on it to make it nice and shiny.
Heat the oven to 230° Celsius, place the celery sticks and onions in a deep baking tray and place the pork on top, skin-side up. Roast it for 45 minutes, until the skin starts to crisp. Turn the heat down to 160° C and pour the chicken stock and cider in the tray, around the pork, without touching the skin, and let it roast for another 3 hours. By then the meat should be tender and the skin really crispy. If not, turn the heat back up and give it another 20 minutes.
Place the pork and onions on a carving plate and cover with foil. Pour the juices from the cooking tray into a jug and let them settle. Skim off the fat and whisk the juices in a pan with the wholegrain mustard, add some boiling water if the taste is too strong. There’s nothing else left to do except carve the meat and serve it alongside the onions, the celery, and the gravy.
2. Chili-Glazed Pork Belly Squares
If you’re looking for something to convince your friends to try pork belly, this is the dish for you. It may take some time to prepare, but the results are little pieces of pork heaven on the end of each toothpick. You’re going to need:
- 1.25kg pork belly, skinless and excess fat trimmed
- 150g marmalade
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 orange juiced
Heat your oven to 170°C and roast the pork belly for about two and a half hours in a tightly foil covered roasting tin. When the time’s up, take it out, cool to room temperature and cut into bite-sized pieces. Put the pieces in a roasting tray and roast for about 30 minutes, turning regularly, at 200°C.
While that’s roasting, mix together the chili flakes, marmalade, soy sauce and orange juice and slowly heat it until you get a syrup-like substance. Pour the syrup over the pork belly pieces, tossing them so they cover evenly and roast for another 5 minutes. To serve, pierce them with a cocktail stick.
3. Rolled and Stuffed Pork Belly
This recipe is one of the best things you can do to pork belly. It’s the perfect Sunday feast center piece that will show you just how versatile pork belly can be. You’re going to need:
- pork belly cut from the thick end, 2kg after skinning and boning, skin well-scored
- 100g blanched cobnuts or hazelnuts
- 1 fennel bulb, hard stalks removed and diced into rough 1cm cubes
- olive oil
- 10g toasted fennel seeds
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- 1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled
- 500g baby leeks
- 130g skinned cooking chorizo
The first is to salt both sides really well, then leave them in the fridge overnight. The next day take them out and pour boiling water over it from a kettle. This should make the score lines rise up a bit. Pat it dry and leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight.
Roast the hazelnuts or cobnuts in a 160°C oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Then, put your fennel in a pot with a big dollop of olive oil and cook it with the lid on until it softens. Mix the cooked fennel, the fennel seeds, onions, garlic, and chorizo in a blender or food processor until you get a paste. Rub the paste all over the meat side of the belly, after you’ve rinsed off all the excess salt and patted it dry.
You are now ready to roll it up starting from the long side. Once done, take the skin and wrap it around the whole thing, and use some butcher string to keep the whole thing in place. Place in a roasting tray using the ribs as a trivet and cook for 2 hours. While cooking, partially boil the leeks whole for about 10 minutes. After the 2 hours are up, add the leeks to the tray and cook it for another half hour. After that take out and serve.
4. Pork Scratchings
Let’s say it’s Monday night and you want to kick back after a long day, crack open a cold one and watch the game. You don’t feel like going to a sports bar but that’s where all the yummy game-night snacks are at. What to do? Just make your own using:
- 200g pork belly skin, scored (ask your butcher)
- table salt
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- sea salt, paprika or celery salt to serve
Salt the skin lightly, place it on a rack above a dish, and leave it overnight in the fridge. Next day just wipe clean and rub with vinegar. Then cut it into strips. While doing this don’t forget to heat the oven at 140°C. Once your strips are ready, place them on a clean oven grill and put them in the oven above a roasting tray to collect the dripping fat. Cook for about an hour, while emptying the tray from time to time.
After an hour, blast the heat up to 200°C until the skin starts to become crisp and bubble. Once you’re happy with the color, take them out and add any flavor you want. It’s simple, it’s quick and you won’t miss the kick-off. Granted, you’ll have to start preparing them the day before, but it will all be worth it.
5. Twice-Cooked Sticky Pork Belly Salad
Who ever said you can’t make a cake out of pork belly? Well, just about anybody with enough common sense. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for a salad. All you need is:
- ¼ Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 cup trimmed bean sprouts
- 1 bunch baby radishes, trimmed, finely sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
- ½ bunch mint, leaves picked
- ½ bunch mint, leaves picked
- 1 kg piece boneless pork belly
- Master stock
- 2 tbs. brown sugar
- Lime wedges for serving
Simmer the pork belly gently in a saucepan with the stock. Cover the whole thing with a piece of parchment paper. Do this until the meat is tender. Remove the belly and pat it dry with paper towels. Don’t forget to strain and reserve the stock. Cut up the pork into bits of about 25-30 cm and fry them in heated oil in a wok or deep-frying pan until they’re golden brown, then drain them on paper towels. You should do this in two batches, 2-3 minutes for each batch.
After removing the pork, add the sugar to the pan or wok along with a cup of the reserved stock. Simmer while stirring for about 4 minutes and wait until the whole thing reduces to about half. Then add the pork back to the wok. To serve, toss all the ingredients into a bowl, placing the pork on top. Serve hot with lime wedges.
6. Chinese Pork Belly
For those looking for some Asian persuasion, you might be interested to know that China is the biggest consumer of pork in the world. That means that there are a lot of recipes coming out of there for whenever you feel like something exotic. You’ll need:
- ½ cup of Saoxsing cooking wine or dry cherry
- ¼ cup of vinegar
- ⅓ cup light soy sauce
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tbs Chinese five-spice
- 1 bunch halved bok choy
- 125 g sugar snap peas, halved lengthways
- 1 kg piece boneless skin on pork belly
Mix the wine, soy sauce, vinegar and five-spice in a shallow baking dish. Place the pork in the dish and rub the mixture all over. With the pork skin side up, cover the dish with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150°C for 2 hours. Then, using the oven grill, grill the pork on the high setting for about 20 minutes, until the skin gets brown and crispy. Add ¼ cup of water to the pan if the sauce gets thick. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Using another saucepan blanch your bok choy for about a minute in boiling water, adding the snap peas for the last half of it and strain well afterwards. To serve thinly slice the pork, drizzle the pan sauces over it, and top it all off with coriander leaves.
7. Ham Hock and Pork Belly Pie
If done right, all food is comfort food, but none more so than ham hock and pork belly pie. This little number is one of those foods that your grandma makes on special occasions. And once you’ve done it you’ll understand why. You’ll need:
- 1 smoked ham hock (about 1.2kg)
- 300ml tomato puree
- 1 large onion, very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 thyme sprig, plus extra to serve
- 1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked
- 1 bay leaf
- 500g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 2cm pieces
- 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
- 2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
- 50g brown sugar
- 1 tbs smoked paprika
- 2 tbs bacon jam (from gourmet food shops)
- 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained 1kg potatoes, peeled, cut into 2 cm pieces
- 40g unsalted butter
- 2 tbs milk
- 100g cheddar, grated
Place the ham in a dish with cold water and let it soak overnight. The next day, drain the ham and place it in a casserole dish along with everything else except the beans, the potatoes, the cheese, and the milk. Season everything with salt and bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 3 ½ hours, until the meat is falling off the bone. Take it out and leave to cool.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and throw away the chillies. Skin the excess fat from the casserole and then put the ham back in. Next, make a puree out of the potatoes, adding milk and butter. Lastly, stir in the cheese. To actually make the pie you’ll want to preheat the oven to 180°C. Put all the meat filling in a pie dish and top with the mash. Bake everything for about 25 minutes or until golden.
8. Chinese Pork Belly Sliders
Bringing together flavors and culinary cultures can be hard sometimes, especially when you want to entertain and impress your guests. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All you have to do is serve up some pork belly sliders and your evening is set. What you’ll need for this recipe is:
- 2 tbs rice vinegar
- 2 tbs caster sugar
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Sriracha
- 1/4 cup (75g) mayonnaise
- 20 small (7cm) burger buns, split
- 300g good-quality chicken liver pâté
- 600g Chinese roast pork belly, sliced
- 1 cup coriander leaves
- 1 cup micro cress
Mix the vinegar with the sugar and 1 tbs of salt in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the carrots and the cucumbers and let them pickle for about 10 minutes, then drain them and set aside. Now mix the Sriracha and the mayonnaise in a different bowl.
Lightly toast the buns and spread the pâté over them. Place the pork belly slices over the pâté and garnish with coriander, micro cress, carrot, and cucumber. Top it all off with the mayonnaise mix, add the bun top and enjoy.
9. Chinese Salted Pork Belly
This one is for the pork belly die-hard fan. Granted, you could just go out and buy this from your local shop, but making it yourself is really cool and lets you control the quality of the ingredients. Think about it like this: you get to make your own Chinese jerky. You’ll need:
- ½ pound (225g) coarse sea salt
- 1 ounce (30g) Sichuan peppercorns
- 4½ pounds (2 kg) pork belly
Since this is going to take a while to prepare, you better cancel all plans. Just kidding, but you will need to be patient and follow the instructions closely.
First, in a wok or a cast iron skillet, stir fry the Sichuan peppercorns with the sea salt over a medium heat – when done the salt turns light yellow. Set the mixture aside and let it cool. Next, rinse the pork belly in cold water and pat it dry before placing in a casserole dish. Once the salt and pepper mixture is cool enough to handle, set aside ⅓ cup.
Use the rest to rub into the pork belly, evenly, on all sides. Place a couple of large flat stones or bricks covered in foil on top to weigh the pork belly down in the dish. Cover everything up in plastic and put in the fridge.
The next day, unwrap the dish and remove any liquids that might have accumulated. Then rub the reserved salt and pepper mixture into the pork belly, wrap it back up and put it back in the fridge, with the weights on top. On day 4 take the dish out again, remove any liquid and put it back in the fridge. On day 6 take out the dish, rinse the pork belly of all the salt and pepper mixture, and pat it dry.
Now string it up somewhere cool and dry and away from any unwanted critters. Let it dry this way for another 5 days. The meat has to be dry to the touch but still easy to cut. When it is dry enough, you can take start serving it.
10. Pork Belly Fries
If you’re looking for a quick savory dish for family or friends, look no further. The answer is right here. All you need is:
- 1/4 inch russet potatoes
- pork belly
- chinese five-spice powder
- hoisin sauce
- pork velouté
- sweet piquanté peppers, sliced
- scallions, sliced
This dish is best done with leftover pork belly cut up into strips. If you don’t have them lying around, but still want to try this recipe, then you should firstly cook the pork belly for about 8 hours in an oven heated to 60°C. Season only with some Chinese five spice powder.
Once you have your cooked pork belly, par-cook your potatoes in the oven at 150°C then freeze. Once frozen, fry them for 3 minutes until they are golden and crispy. Cut the pork belly into strips and sauté them in a pan with the hoisin sauce. Mix everything together and add scallions, sweet peppers, and pork velouté as needed.
As you can see pork belly is a very versatile ingredient that can be used to make almost any kind of dish that goes with almost anything. It goes with rice. It goes with pickles. It goes with fruit, it goes with wine, it goes with a FRIENDS marathon, it goes with a nice bottle of wine, it even goes with the complete works of William Shakespeare, if you’re into that kind of thing.
This quarantine has brought out the chef in most of us, and pork belly might just be the ingredient you’re looking for to test your new found abilities. You can experiment with it in a variety of ways and only a few may not run out as you want. All in all, you might discover that pork belly is what was missing from your life.