Week 23: Pork Belly

Pork belly. To me, it conjures up memories of rich, decadent and deeply flavorful dishes at upscale restaurants. To others, it’s a total mystery. I’ve often received a blank stare when I mention it. “Pork belly?” they ask. “I’ve never eaten that. What’s it like?” I bet that even if you think you haven’t, you actually have had it before – ever tried bacon? Bacon is often derived from pork belly. But using an entire pork belly is a different story, so I set out to find some. It was illusive at first, as it’s not written on any signage in grocery stores or farmer’s markets that I visited. Once I started asking vendors, it was a whole other story.

My local pork farmer, Bledsoe Natural Pork, doesn’t bring it to the farmer’s market unless it’s requested because it requires such a cold temperature to stay fresh. I checked with a local grocery store, Nugget Market, who does sell it and for an astonishingly cheap price. I scooped up a few pounds and went to work looking for a way to prepare it. We didn’t need to look far – the Momofuku cookbook has wonderful ideas for pork belly. Not surprising, considering that pork belly is very popular in Korean and Chinese cuisine.

Using the Momofuku cooking technique, Russ created a simple braised pork belly with some fantastic baked beans. By baking the beans in the rendered pork fat along with ketchup and brown sugar, he created a deeply flavorful side dish that was both savory and sweet at the same time.

Braised Pork Belly with Baked Beans

  • 3 lbs. skin-on pork belly


  • 8 C water
  • 1 1/4 C kosher slat
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 14 bay leaves
  • 4 T whole uncracked black pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and skin left on

Baked Beans:

  • Rendered fat from braised pork belly
  • 40 oz. canned pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 C ketchup
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Braised Pork Belly: Combine all the ingredients for brine in a large stock pot and place pork belly inside, ensuring it is completely covered by brine. Place pot in refrigerator for at least 5 hours but  no more than 10 hours.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove pork from brine and score the skin*. Place in a large baking dish skin or fat side up, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and roast for 1 hour, basting halfway through. After 1 hour, lower temperature to 250°F and roast for another hour and 15 minutes.

Let meat rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle, then place in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Don’t clean the baking dish – you will use it to make the baked beans.)

Once ready to serve, heat a very lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat. Cut meat to pieces that are 1/2″ thick and 2″ wide. Sautee until lightly browned on both sides and serve immediately alongside beans.

Baked Beans: Keep the oven at 250°F. Using the same baking dish from roasting the pork belly, add the beans, ketchup, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Serve immediately.

*We recommend taking the skin off at this point. We left it on because too much of the fat was coming off with it, but the meat ended up not being as tender as we would have liked.

8 Comments on Week 23: Pork Belly

  1. Monet
    June 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm (11 years ago)

    I am a vegetarian…so no pork belly for me…but I love baked beans. I have a great vegetarian recipe that I use, and your beautiful pictures are making me want to make a pot!

    • Stephanie
      June 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm (11 years ago)

      I understand, I was a vegetarian for years. Now I will only eat meat that has been raised humanely and sustainably, and only on occasion. And I rarely cook it myself – if you see a meat dish here, I can almost guarantee that Russ was the one who made it (except the bacon cupcakes).

      The baked beans were really good and would still be great without the pork fat!

  2. The Cilantropist
    June 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm (11 years ago)

    I have been wanting to try out pork belly for awhile myself, looks like your use of the momofuku technique was a great success!

  3. ramm
    June 7, 2010 at 9:00 am (11 years ago)

    m-m-m… i like this! beautiful pictures for my eyes… my brayn painting it’s realy! this smack, this small… it’s so good.

  4. My Man's Belly
    June 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm (11 years ago)

    I haven’t tried cooking with pork belly yet, but am definitely looking to try it. This makes it seem to be a less daunting task than I thought it would be.

  5. Kathy Gori
    June 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm (11 years ago)

    I was just asking about pork belly at my butchers yesterday, i need a two day advance notice but I can get it very cheaply..i was just going to do bacon but this….wow!

  6. lownbrow
    August 17, 2010 at 9:22 am (11 years ago)

    If your pork belly wasn’t tender enough you probably needed to cook it a bit longer.


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