Pork belly is our latest recipe that we have been working on and looking forward to for some time. It is a very tasty cut of pork and was so easy to make. It’s flavorful and slightly crispy but at the same time juicy.
You can make it for a quick weeknight dinner or serve it to your guests too. It can be an appetizer or the main meat for your dinner served with your favorite sauce or side dish.
Pork belly is considered a delicacy in restaurants, usually as an appetizer but you may see it on the dinner side of the menu too. Sometimes it’s just served on a bed of lettuce and sometimes with some pico de gallo on the top. It is also so yummy without any sauce on top.
I love pork belly and now that I have learned how easy it is to make at home, I will never have to get it at a restaurant and pay all that money for a little tiny piece or two.
If you like some of our other delicious pork recipes like keto baby back ribs, then you will also love our crispy pork belly recipe!
What is Pork Belly?
Pork belly is a boneless slab of meat that comes from the belly of the pig, hence the name. It is a piece of meat that is fatty on the top and also running through it.
Bacon, everyone’s favorite meat, comes when the pork belly is stripped of it’s fatty outer layer, then cured, smoked and sliced into the best breakfast, lunch and dinner meat!
What is the Difference Between Bacon and Pork Belly?
Pork belly and bacon come from the same area of the pig, the belly area. One thing for sure is that no matter which one you cook with you certainty can’t go wrong because they are both so delicious!!!
Pork Belly: It’s uncured without any nitrates or preservatives and is often sold in big slabs. It is usually cooked in the oven, deep fried or braised in chinese cuisine, and can also be grilled or roasted.
As long as you do not overcook it, “it melts in your mouth tender” and is considered a delicacy in fancy restaurants.
Bacon: It is cut from the pork belly or the fleshy underside of the pig, and also the back, collar, shoulder and jaw. It is technically pork belly but pork belly is not bacon. It is called side bacon and has layers of fat alternating with layers of muscles.
Bacon is salt cured or brined and most of the time has nitrates and nitrites to enhance the color and extend the shelf life. It is sliced for our easy cooking, coming in thin, thick and extra thick slices.
Summary: The biggest difference between the 2 is how it is prepared and whether it is cured or uncured.
Pork Belly Cooking Methods
The best way, in my opinion, to cook pork belly is roasting it in the oven. It comes out so tender and tasty and not many other flavors are needed, just the pork. Other forms of cooking have other flavorings and sauces added to the meat, and it sometimes overpowers the flavor of the meat.
Oven Roasted – The most common way to cook it, which is very simple. It’s just seasoned with common spices and baked, which allows you to really appreciate the taste of the meat.
Frying – On the stove top in a frying pan, with some olive oil and simple spices so that you still taste the meat. It could also have added ingredients, such as asian flavors like honey, soy sauce, teriyaki, garlic and sesame seeds.
Grilling – You have to put some oil or sauce on the meat so that it doesn’t stick or dry out. BBQ sauce is one of the common ones to use on the grill with many types of meat including pork belly.
What Ingredients are in Crispy Pork Belly?
Pork Belly – This is a tender and fatty cut from the belly section of the pig, similar to bacon but not cured.
Olive Oil – Any type will do.
Salt – To enhance the flavor of the meat.
Pepper – Black.
Garlic Powder – A tasty addition to the crackling pork belly.
Onion Powder – Also a tasty flavor for the roasted pork belly.
Different Variations of Pork Belly
When you hear of pork belly on the menu what flavors do you think of?
Pork belly with garlic and something sweet, like honey
Pork belly Chinese style
BBQ flavor pork belly
Flavor your pork belly with some cayenne pepper before cooking for a spicy touch.
What to Look For When Buying Pork Belly?
When you buy pork belly for the first time, it may be confusing because it is sold in 2 different shapes. It was confusing to us until we realized there are 2 different cuts of the same meat and you can’t always find both of them at all stores.
So what I did was to go to a meat market and the owner kindly explained the difference to me.
There is one type that is a solid piece that looks like thick cut bacon.
The other type looks like thick cut bacon that is sliced and lying flat.
If you buy the solid piece, buy a 2-3 lb piece. Before you cook it you should score the fat on the top to allow the seasonings to permeate the meat.
Next, the same is true as with any meat that you buy, make sure that it looks fresh, the fat should be creamy white in color and not show any grey coloring which would mean that it is beginning to go bad. And it should have a fresh meat smell, not one that is starting to smell bad.
You also want to make sure that it is about 50% meat and 50% fat, because too much fat would not be good, but at the same time you need fat in pork belly for texture and flavor. Then you want the fat and meat to be evenly spaced throughout the meat.
How to Use Pork Belly
Pork belly can be served as an appetizer or as a main dish. It also makes an elegant salad topper.
Typically when you see pork belly it is in small squares, usually bite size or a larger bite size. That makes it easier to eat. Just pick up a piece, dip it in some mustard or your favorite sauce and then pop it in your mouth.
How to Get Pork Belly Skin Crispy
By turning the oven on a high temperature in the first part of the baking process, it starts to crisp the skin.
I also score the fat on the top of the slab of meat which helps you to get crispy and crackling pork belly.
There is also a trick that you can do with rock salt to crisp the top of the pork belly. You can load up the top of the slab with a layer of salt. When it crisps up then remove it without the skin actually getting too salty.
The skin actually crisps up as you continue to cook it longer, staying golden brown rather than burnt.
How to Cook Crispy Pork Belly in the Oven
We are going to give you step by step instructions on how to make crispy roast pork belly in the oven.
STEP 1: The first step is to preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Take the pork belly out of the refrigerator to take the chill off of it.
STEP 2: Next, get out a cookie sheet or baking tray and line it with a piece of aluminum foil. Then place a rack on top of it. Place the pork belly on top of the rack.
STEP 3: Score the top of the pork belly with a sharp knife, but be careful not to cut through to the meat, just cut the fat.
STEP 4: Brush the entire top of the meat with olive oil.
STEP 5: Season the meat with the spices of your choice. We prefer salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
STEP 6: Bake the pork belly for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees. I like to let it cook the full 30 minutes as long as it’s not burning on the top.
STEP 7: Now turn the oven down to 325 degrees and cook it for another 25-30 minutes.
STEP 8: Use your thermometer and check the temperature. If it reads 145 degrees then it’s time to take it out of the oven. If not then put it back in the oven and check it every 5 minutes until it reaches the desired temperature.
STEP 9: Take it out of the oven and wrap it completely in aluminum foil and let it rest for another 30 minutes, as it continues to cook as it rests in the foil.
STEP 10: Once the pork belly is rested, take it out of the aluminum foil and place it on a cutting board. With a sharp knife slice the pork belly to your desired thickness and serve.
How Do You Know When Pork Belly is Done?
There are so many schools of thought on what temperature to cook your pork belly in the oven to. It used to be the thought that you should cook pork to death, but it was always overcooked. That’s why some people say that they don’t like pork, because it’s dry.
I like to cook our oven roasted pork belly to 145 degrees and then as it rests out of the oven, all wrapped in foil for 30-40 minutes, the internal temperature will keep rising as it continues to cook.
It’s important to always use a thermometer to get the most accurate reading possible.
FAQs & Best Tips
Everytime we make a recipe for the first time there are always questions that can come up, so in this section we hope to give you a heads up on some of the things that you may be wondering about, along with some helpful tips in making your pork belly recipe come out great.
Make sure to buy a pork belly that looks and smells fresh, if not you risk that it is starting to go bad.
When you score the fat on the top of the pork belly be careful not to cut down into the meat too.
If you overcook your pork belly it will not be tender and juicy. Instead it will be tough and dry and you will wonder why it’s not tender and juicy. So if in doubt then use a thermometer to double check.
You can cook your pork belly in the oven, in a frying pan on the stove, and on the grill.
It can be served as an appetizer with your favorite sauce, a main meal with one of many side dishes, or on top of a beautiful green salad.
It is always a good idea to use a thermometer to double check the temperature of your pork belly. It should come out of the oven no later than 145 degrees because as you let it rest it will continue to cook longer.
How Do You Make Pork Belly Not Chewy?
If you cook the pork belly too long, that soft and tender delicacy will turn into rubbery meat, and that’s the last thing that you want to do.
To avoid this problem, use a thermometer and don’t cook it past 145 degrees, because like most meats, they continue to cook longer as they rest.
Do I Have to Leave the Skin on Pork Belly?
If the pork belly that you buy has a skin on it, then yes leave the skin on. What you do is score the top so that when you roast it, it allows the seasonings to permeate through while it gets crispy.
If you buy the skinless variety, then obviously skip the scoring and go straight to the seasoning step.
Why is Pork Belly So Expensive?
You may wonder why pork belly costs so much more money per pound than other cuts of pork.
It is because it comes from the belly of the pig which is not a very big area. So for each pig that is slaughtered there is only so much meat that you can get out of it. It has also become somewhat of a delicacy in restaurants, increasing the price.
Can You Eat Pork Belly Raw?
This is a very interesting question. Right away my first instinct was to say, NO due to undercooked pork. However, as I did more research on the question, my answer has changed to a YES, but under certain circumstances.
Years ago we always heard that by eating undercooked pork you could end up with a sickness called trichinosis, and so as a result that’s why we have ended up with most people cooking their pork to death out of fear. No wonder some people say they don’t like pork, because it is DRY.
The reason for trichinosis was because the pigs ate scraps of meat and other things that were infected, so as a result their meat will be also (like the old saying, you are what you eat).
However, now when our pork comes from industrial pig farms using modern nutritional systems, trichinosis from undercooked pork is a thing of the past.
If you are not used to eating raw meat of any kind, then start gradually by cooking your pork less and less until you are sure you can tolerate it totally raw.
Can Pork Belly Be Cooked Like Bacon?
Yes, pork belly can be cooked like bacon. You can fry it on the stove or bake it in the oven just like you would do with bacon.
You can buy it already cut into slices that resemble very thick slices of bacon, or if you have a big slab, then you can slice it yourself.
The end result will be a different shape and size than bacon, and have a slightly different flavor, but the most important thing is that it will taste just as yummy!!
What Goes Well with Pork Belly?
There are so many things that you can eat with your pork belly. Here are a few favorite suggestions:
This is a recipe using the elite cut of the pork family. Pork belly is a very tender, juicy and flavorful delicacy, served as an appetizer or main course. It will be a favorite with your friends and family, at a fraction of the cost of having it out at a restaurant.
3 lb Pork Belly
1 tbspOlive Oil
½ tsp Pepper
½ tspGarlic Powder
½ tsp Onion Powder
The first thing to do is preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Take your pork belly out of the refrigerator and let it warm up a bit.
The next thing to do when making our roast pork belly is to get a cookie sheet and line it with a piece of aluminum foil. Then place a rack on top of the foil.
Place your piece of pork belly on top of the rack and score the top with your sharp knife but be careful not to cut through to the meat, just cut the fat.
Brush the entire top of the meat with olive oil.
Season the meat with your spices of your choice. Our choice of spices is salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Bake the pork belly for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees. I like it to go the full 30 minutes as long as it’s not burning on the top.
Now turn down the oven to 325 degrees for another 25-30 minutes.
Take your thermometer and check the temperature. If it reads 145 then it’s time to take it out of the oven. If not then put it back in the oven, checking it every 5 minutes until it reaches desired temperature.
Take the baked pork belly out of the oven and wrap it completely in aluminum foil and let it rest for another 30 minutes. (It will continue to cook in the foil as it rests.)
Take it out of the aluminum foil and place it on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice the pork belly to your desired thickness and serve.
Zero NET Carbs
Make sure to buy fresh looking and fresh smelling pork belly. So do not buy it if it looks like it’s turning grey, or has a smell to it.
Do not overcook your pork belly in the oven or it will be tough and dry.
Serve your pork belly as an appetizer, a salad topper, or a main meal with one of your favorite side dishes.
How to Store: The best way to store your pork belly is to wrap it properly and then it will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
How to Reheat: Heating up your leftover pieces of pork belly is simple, but just keep in mind that the longer you heat it up, it is continuing to cook longer as it heats. So do not heat it to death. Just heat it enough to take the chill off of it, either in the microwave or in the oven.
How to Freeze: Freezing your leftover pork belly is really easy. Like anything else that you want to store in the freezer, just make sure that it is well protected from getting freezer burn. Store your meat in an airtight container and then put it into a ziploc bag for added protection. Or you could wrap it in plastic wrap and then put it into an airtight container for double protection.
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