Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pork Belly is the "New Bacon"

 It's a homage to Baconfest!!!

Okay so technically pork belly is the cut of meat that is used from the butchered pig to give us delicious bacon but it's a good thing all onto itself without the curing and smoking. If you have read my blog in the past you will remember that I spoke about "Bacon with a Side of Bacon" at one of my favorite local spots, One Eyed Betty's in Ferndale, Michigan. They give you bacon in the traditional sense, along with a juicy succulent piece of roasted pork belly. Once you have had pork belly you will see what I mean.

So yesterday I bought a piece but since it was a little over two pounds perhaps I should say I bought a "hunk" of pork belly. Pork belly is something you have to ask for at the local meat counter, they have it hiding in the back and if you have to be in the know. But it is actually cheaper than bacon, much cheaper actually. I paid $7.75 for this slab and it's a blank canvas for me to work with. I get to flavor it just how I would like it.

I should note that the young man behind the counter told me that he wanted to come live at my house after I also bought a pound of slab bacon (that stuff is delicious too) and two 1 lb. packages of ground beef. Yes, I know that this is a ridiculous amount of meat but while I grocery shop other areas in town I like a specific butcher counter at a local supermarket (Holiday Market). There are a few reasons: 1. They have pork belly and they are the only ones in town that do, 2. Their Holiday Market Slab Bacon is some of the best bacon I have ever had, at a reasonable price, and it's super fresh, 3. Their ground beef is ground on the premises which I trust better than pink slime the major grocery stores carry, or meat that comes from out of the country, and 4. Fresh chicken breasts. I am scared of frozen ones and since I really like don't like chicken at all I feel better if it's fresh.

Kosher Sea Salt on Pork Belly - Oxymoron?
Spices for dry rub
So back to our pork belly. . . This was a two day process. The first day I had to get the pork belly ready. If you google recipes on line you will find a lot of complicated processes and marinades. Simple is best and will let the pork belly shine. So I made a little dry rub from basic ingredients. For spices I used ground pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper and some garlic salt (new find at Trader Joe's where you grind the garlic and the salt together, brilliant!). To this I added some sugar and some kosher salt. I think the main idea is that you use some spices and balance it with some sugar but the choice of what you use would be your preference. I know a lot of people who really like rosemary but I am not a big fan of that particular herb so I rarely use it. Thyme, to me, is less overpowering.

Pork Belly dressed and ready to go
I rubbed the pork belly all over with the rub and placed it in a covered Pyrex dish overnight. Technically it was closer to 12 hours because it's Sunday and I have other things going on. Really this whole process is easy. . . it sits in the fridge and the rub adds a new dimension to the meat. You could use a plastic bag to store it overnight (or my 12 hours) but really I am weary of plastic bags that sometimes add a whole new flavor dimension that I'm not really interested in. No added flavors with Pyrex.

Before Rinsing
Now here is where it gets interesting. . . when you actually take it out of the fridge to move on to roasting you rinse off the rub. I know, I can't believe it either but the spices have done what they need to do an we can move on to roasting. If you look closely, you will see that it actually marinated even though we call it a "rub". There were juices in this pan that had developed and I have to tell you it was already smelling good. So I rinsed it under cold water and patted it dry with a paper towel before transferring this lovely pork belly to a roasting pan.

A roasting pan is really your best bet. I lined the bottom part that catches the fatty juices with foil for less mess. We just don't want the meat sitting in fat that may burn and char this dish.

Rinsed and Ready to Roast - Cover with Foil!
I then placed the pork belly on the slotted part but covered it with foil as it baked. I put it in the oven at 350 degrees, covered for a total of an hour and a half, turning every 30 minutes and recovering with my foil tent. After 90 minutes of this care (need I tell you it smells divine in this kitchen?), it is time to finish this off.

I added a bit of hoisin sauce on the top of the fat to give it a little more flavor. I didn't overdo it - just a light glaze to mix with those fatty juices.. Hoisin is like an Asian BBQ sauce, giving some of that smokey flavor but with undertones of teriyaki sauce. Good stuff. I just brushed on a thin layer.

Make sure the pork belly is fat-side-up and place in an oven at 450 degrees. You will hear a cacophony of sound as the fat actually sizzles and pops as it browns.


Glaze of Hoisin Sauce brushed on. . .


Roasted Pork Belly


2 lbs of fresh pork belly
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce


  • Combine spices to make a rub and cover the pork belly liberally. Place in covered Pyrex dish and marinate overnight in the fridge. 
  • Rinse the pork belly and pat dry with paper towel. Place on a roaster pan and cover with foil. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 90 minutes, flipping meat every 30 minutes and recovering with foil.
  • Glaze, fat side up, with hoisin sauce and place back in oven for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees.


  1. Maybe I'll try the rub with tofu - probably won't taste the same, though! :)

    1. Shannon I have marinated tofu in the past as well as those wheat gluten slices (tempeh?) and then baked them. Delicious. And truly Thai restaurants have mastered the art of flavoring tofu. Tofu Todd with peanut sauce? mmmmmm