Pork belly comes from a hog’s ‘belly’ or underside after the loin and spareribs have been removed. This boneless cut may be served fresh, which means it is not cured or smoked.
Fresh pork belly is succulent and richly flavorful and is often served in small portions. Pork belly is at its best and is most tender when prepared using a slow cooking method, such as braising. Pork belly also is a popular menu item among restaurant chefs who appreciate its versatility, flavor, and texture.
Go to your local butcher or retailer and order fresh, skin-on, center-cut pork belly—the leaner the better.
Pork belly skin is very tough so you’ll need a very sharp knife. You can also ask your butcher to score it for you.
Cooking Pork Belly
There are multiple ways to cook Pork Belly if you aren’t going to use it to make homemade bacon. Common methods include roasting, smoking, and searing and can be used as the main feature or enhancement to any menu.
Roasting Pork Belly
Cooking a Pork Belly in an oven is an easy and delicious way to get started experimenting with this flavorful cut.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Score the pork belly skin in a crosshatch pattern
- Season meat with salt, pepper, or other seasonings to add flavor
- Place pork belly on a rack in a baking dish
- Roast 2.5 – 3 hours
- When done, skin should be bubbled and crispy
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
An increasingly popular way to prepare pork belly is in the “burnt ends” style common with the Beef brisket. Check out this Pork Belly Burnt Ends recipe from Malcom Reed.
Pork Belly vs Bacon
Bacon is most often pork belly that has been cured, salted, and sometimes smoked.