Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Braised Pork Belly with Cherry Cola and Hoisin BBQ Sauce

So I admit I seem to have a little obsession with Cherry Coke right now when it comes to cooking. 

I can tell you that there are a couple people who live in this house that think that's just fine because when I use it in a recipe and I buy a two liter there are leftovers and that means soda is readily available around here. No one is complaining!

This new line of inquiry began at Baconfest this year. Root featured some of the best pork belly I have ever had and when I asked what they did to it they mentioned braising in Coca Cola. My mind began weaving new ideas and this is the culmination of what I came up with for now. I thought that if Coke worked, Cherry Cola might be better. I thought that adding some Hoisin might add a little smokiness.

I wanted to get the braising right and found this technique that was cleverly delivered to me through an email from Food52. I was not really interested in the compote that they topped it with but I thought that the instructions to braise would be helpful. Here is what I came up with.

Pork Belly - Better than Bacon
I purchased about 1.75 lbs of Pork Belly at our local grocery store. They have a fine meat counter which is extra fine to me as it's the only local place that I know of where they have this cut of meat available for sale. Believe me I checked elsewhere. So shout out right here to Hollywood Market. I always feel a little devious when I walk up the meat counter and ask for some of the "pork belly in the back" but they always come through. Shhh don't tell. I don't want them to run out.

Scored Pork Belly with Seasonings
I placed the pork belly in a Pyrex dish and scored the fat side with a knife, probably an inch in depth, criss crossing the lines. I gave the pork belly a little bit of a belly rub in the form of some spices. . . Old Bay, sea salt, Herbs De Province, and some cracked rainbow peppercorns. I then mixed a small bottle of Carbarnet Savigon with some soy sauce and poured it into the Pyrex and covered the dish. I let it marinate for about 12 hours, flipping it once to make sure it all bathed in the juice..

Pork Belly on a bed of onions

The next day I sliced a large sweet onion and created a "bed" for the pork belly to rest on in the Pyrex so it wasn't just sitting in the liquid. I placed the pan, uncovered in a 250 degree oven for three hours. While the pork belly basked in the warmth of a low temperature oven, I began to make a BBQ sauce.

All Sauce Ingredients in a Pan Simmering
I used 1.5 cups of Cherry Coke and added a 1/3 cup of Hoisin sauce, stirring together in a heavy saucepan. I added 2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup and 3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce. No spices. I set this on the stove bringing just to about a boil and then reduced to a simmer and let it go while the pork belly braised.

Sauce Ingredients after Simmering for 3 plus hours on a very low temp
After three plus hours you can see the sauce really reduced and became sticky sweet goodness. It smelled delicious too.

3 Hours of Braising

After 3 hours the pork belly was ready for the next step. I tested it by using a fork and piercing the fat. It was pretty darn soft.

I transferred the meat to a new Pyrex dish that was smaller as the meat had shrunk and then covered it with the new BBQ sauce. I placed it back in the oven at 400 degrees and let it brown for about 20 minutes.

Now this might look burnt to you but I can tell you it's not. The fat was able to crackle and that is one of the things that makes pork belly so darn good. The meat inside was tender and almost buttery. Mmmmmmmm.

The true test is that my husband asked if there was any more the next day. He told me he had been looking forward to it. That really is a testament. He is not a foodie like me.

I would have liked this on arugula to balance it with some peppery bitterness but we didn't have any. I cut little wedges on top of brown rice the next day and it was good with the extra sauce.


Braised Pork Belly with Cherry Cola and Hoisin BBQ Sauce

1.75 - 2.00 lbs of Pork Belly

Seasonings to taste
1.5 cups red wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 large onion
1.5 cups Cherry Coke
1/3 cup of Hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup (Grade B preferably)
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Score fat side of pork belly with criss crossed lines, about an inch deep. Rub spices on fat side, pushing into the scored lines.

Pour the red wine and soy sauce on top of the pork belly and let marinate, covered, for about 12 hours, flipping at least once.

Remove from fridge and add sliced onions to pan to create a bed for the meat to lay on. Place in a 250 degree oven for about 2.5 - 3 hours, checking for tenderness.

While braising, mix the ingredients for the sauce,  place in a heavy saucepan and bring to almost a boil, then down to simmer. Simmer until reduced significantly and sauce thickens.

Remove meat from oven, transfer to a new clean dish without liquid or onions. Smother in the sauce and return to 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. The fat on top will crackle and turn brown.


  1. I never would have thought to cook with coke - very interesting!

  2. Just made this. It came out very good. Only downside I can see is it needs to be a little bit sweeter unless I screwed up my measurements. Think a little bit of turbinado sugar could resolve that though. Well Done!!!

    1. Anon. . . did you put in the Maple Syrup? That would add some sweetness. Thank you and I will try a little Raw Sugar next time.