Recipe: the secret to perfect crispy pork belly.
Perfect, crispy pork belly is easier to make than you think. Here’s how to get incredibly moist pork topped with golden crunchy crackling.
Do you love bacon? Then you’re gonna love pork belly, because they’re actually the same thing! Well, technically bacon has been cured and smoked, but the part of the pig you use to make it IS pork belly. And no matter whether you call it crackling, pork rinds, chicharrones or cracklins, crunchy pork skin is an amazing taste and texture sensation.
Now, imagine combining the two into crispy pork belly! I know, my mind was blown the first time I had it, too. In fact, it may just be the ultimate porcine pleasure. One thing that has always eluded me, is why anyone would bother cooking a pork belly without the skin. Or without rendering the fat. It’s always terribly disappointing to order pork belly from a menu and get a wet, fatty chunk without the textural crunch of a wafer of golden, salty skin.
Good news folks, this method ensures a bubbly, honeycomb-esque layer of crispy goodness every single time. See, the trick to perfect skin is keeping moisture at bay. Some people turn the skin upside down on a tea towel overnight to press out the moisture. Others use baking soda as a drying agent. Others still swear by poking lots of tiny holes in the skin’s surface (ok, this one may actually have some merit, and I may play round with it in future). My method uses salt – a natural moisture extractor.
When you spread the salt over the surface and bake it, a magical alchemy occurs that joins the crystals into one solid crust, all while encouraging a Saharan-like surface on your meat. You’ll marvel at the way all those little granules join forces to create a giant salt shield. Most importantly, after testing this method multiple times to make sure it wasn’t just a lucky fluke, I can assure you it really works.
And you’d better believe the results are freakin’ delicious. The only thing you need to be ready for is to start cooking the day before you want to serve it, because the meat should marinate overnight.
Recipe after the pics:
Super crispy salt-crusted pork belly
If you can’t find skin-on pork belly at your local butcher, try an Asian meat market.
- 2lb piece of pork belly, skin on
- 1/2 cup light soy
- 3/4 cup water, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 c oyster sauce
- 3-4 star anise
- 1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
- 1.5-2 cups kosher salt
Combine 1/4 cup water, soy, oyster sauce, honey, star anise, peppercorns and garlic in a shallow dish large enough to fit the belly.
Using a papertowel, pat down the skin of the belly. You want to keep it as dry as possible from this point on, ensuring no moisture or liquid touches it again. Place the belly carefully in the marinade mix, which should come up to the sides of the meat, but not touch the skin. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
Preheat oven to 350f, and line a roasting pan with foil (for easy cleanup). Place a rack on top of the foil, and pour remaining water in the bottom of the pan. Remove belly from marinade, brushing off any stuck peppercorns or anise, and place on the rack, skin up. If the belly is not even, use some bunched up foil to raise it and make it as level as possible.
Carefully pour the salt onto the skin, forming a thick layer. Spread all the way to the edges, making sure the skin is not visible. Add a little extra salt if necessary - it will turn into a solid crust during cooking. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 40 minutes.
Remove from pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 460f . Carefully lift off solid salt crusts and discard. Use a pastry brush to brush away any stray granules. Return the pork to the hotter oven to allow the skin to crisp, 35-45 minutes.
If the skin hasn't completely transformed to crisp crackling, turn on the broiler and blast it for a further 10 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure it doesn't burn.
Remove cooked belly from oven, place on a board. Use a cleaver or roast slicer to cut into chunks and serve immediately.
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