Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Great Pork Belly experiment

So tonight, Brenda and Ben are visiting family and Nick is coming over to cook a few pork belly strips ( about 2.5 pounds) I bought at the Asian Market a few weeks ago. I have researched 2 methods for prepping and cooking and I have 2 packages of belly to play with. I am anticipating soft tender pork meat with a crackling crust. We will see. The bellies are fully thawed in the fridge as we speak and I choose not to marinate either of them as we want to actually taste the meat.

The first method is a long slow roast and the second is a quick boil and then an actual deep fry for a more authentic Chinese treatment. More to come....
I had 6 strips of  Pork Belly like this. I scored the skin and prepared the meat according to each recipes specifications.

For the Roasted recipe, the skin was rubbed with olive oil and a mixture of salt and fennel seeds I ground with the mortar and pestle.  The prepared meat was then layered upon a bed of quartered onions, garlic cloves and celery. I did not have carrots but I would have added them to the mix also.

This was then roasted at 450 for 15 minutes. The skin crisped up nicely and then I turned the oven down to 325 for nearly 3 hours. At the halfway mark, I added a cup of white wine to the roasting pan.

For the other method, I brought 2 cups of water to a boil with salt and peppercorns in a Dutch oven. I added the pork strips and covered for 15 minutes. I drained and dried the meat and put about 1-2 cups of oil in the pan and turned the heat on high. I carefully placed the pork strips in and covered quickly. Lots of spattering in this method. I cooked the pork for about 7 minutes then turned it over for the other side.

The results:

The roasted pork was by far crispier and the skin was rendered perfectly.
The fried pork looked incredible but the skin did not render as much and it was not nearly as crisp. I was not a fan of the fried version and the excess mess with all the oil was daunting.  In the fried version, the layer of tissue under the skin remained intact while in the roasted version, it melted away. That layer in the fried version was texturally tough and tough to chew.Not good at all.

The roasted version was shatteringly crisp and the meat was tender and succulent. At any rate, this won't replace my lamb breast as my favorite guilty pleasure.
Roasted on the left, fried on the right
The roasted recipe called for a gravy to be made with the drippings which I did and served it with new potatoes. Very tasty, but the chunks of pork dipped in the Asian sauce were really really good. I would use the roasted meat and the Asian sauce if I were ever to make this again but it's not likely. To me it was much ado about nothing. It was not all that cheap and the cooking time was excessive for the results.

The Asian sauce:
1/4 soy sauce
1 tbl lime juice
2 finely sliced chili's red (I had green)  Just right to offset the pork.

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