Grilled Pork Belly (Παντσέτες-στα-κάρβουνα)

img_5408Today, I’m going to share with you another fabulous, affordable and delicious treat brought to you from the Greek grill.

The subject matter is none other than pork belly. Pork belly comes from the underside (belly) of the pig and it’s used to make bacon, rillettes, confit or a terrine. The Italians make their own version of bacon in pancetta. This underside (belly) is also where side-ribs come from and if you know anything about flavour – you know side ribs (albeit tougher than baby back ribs) have a ton of flavour.img_5368

One cannot deny that this cut of pork has fat in it but with some care in choosing your pork belly (look for a leaner cut) and some attention to the grilling, you’ll be delighted to have found another delicious piece of meat to add to your summer grilling repertoire.img_5378

My earliest recollection of eating pork belly in Greece is in the early 90’s. There was a bar in in the town where our family’s summer home is and they would throw “BBQ Parties” for the customers. Grilled pork belly was being given out along with slices of bread – all for free. Just as long as you were ordering drinks – the grilled pork belly was for the having.img_5400

Pork belly is a cheap cut, likely because it needs some coaxing to be tender but leave it to the Greeks to find a quick and delicious method to grill this cheap yet delicious cut.

In Greece, pork belly is labeled or known asΠαντσέτες” (pantsetes), much like how the Italians call the belly. Butcher shops and supermarkets will carry this very popular pork cut, you’ll have no problem finding and you can be just as sure that a taverna or grill stand will include pantsetes in their menu alongside keftedes, souvlakia,  loukanika and gyro.img_5377

When ordering or asking for pork belly, ask for the center-cut where each rib has been removed. It should look like a rectangular slab of pork, with the layers of skin, fat and pork meat evident from looking at it’s cross-section.

To turn this tougher yet flavourful cut into grilling deliciousness, one simply has to cut the belly against the grain, on the smaller side of the slab. Cut each slice to about an 1/2 inch in thickness. You need this thickness as there’s alot of fat in there which renders and in the end, leaves you with a smaller but albeit juicy, flavourful and and tender piece of grilled meat.

Be it at the butcher or at home, one has to decide if they want to grill the pork belly with or without the skin. Your butcher can remove the skin (or trim it off yourself) but I like the skin in tact as I adore the three textures one gets when biting into this delicious cut.img_5217

Upon taking a bite of “pantseta”, the first sensation is biting into the crackling. The second sensation is the taste of the little fat that’s left in the grilled belly (most is rendered in the grilling) and third and final taste sensation is the tender, flavourful & lean pork meat. The crackling is not for everyone but it’s a MUST for me.

In Greece, pantsetes are served much like a pork souvlaki is…grilled, finished off with some lemon juice and seasoned with sea salt and a sprinkle of Greek oregano. Often, the souvlaki or panteses are served on slices of rustic bread, which acts as a sponge to the juices from the meat. The simply pleasure of good bread with a souvlaki or pantsetes is hard to beat.

Go buy some pork belly and in the meantime, I’ll set up the grill and I’ll show you how I grill “pantsetes” or pork belly.img_5412

Grilled Pork Belly (Παντσέτες στα κάρβουνα)

(makes 1 platter, enough for 4)

1 kg. of pork belly (skin removed if desired)

sea salt

black pepper

fresh lemon juice

dried Greek oregano

  1. Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill. You’re aiming for a medium-high heat.
  2. Cut the pork belly along the short side into approx. 1/2 inch slices.
  3. Just before your grill is ready, season your pork belly cutlets with some salt & pepper and place on your pre-heated grill.
  4. Grill over medium-high heat on each side for about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the pork belly and sprinkle with some sea salt and dried Greek oregano.
  6. Serve on top of slices of crusty bread, with some Greek fries, a salad and some cold beer.img_5397-1

Important Note: Pork belly has lots of fat but most it renders off in the grilling process. When grilling pork belly, you will get some flare-ups from the fat so DO NOT leave your pork belly unattended while grilling and have a spray bottle with water at hand to flush-out any flare-ups.img_5116-1

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© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

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55 Comments for “Grilled Pork Belly (Παντσέτες-στα-κάρβουνα)”

says:

omg! OMG!!! That looks so bleeping amazing, Peter. I’m really wishing you were my neighbor. We could trade your awesome meals for some of my random desserts. And why am I always seeing these posts in the morning?! Totally unfair. Totally. xxoo

says:

Wow. So does the meat have a chance to tenderise then? I’ve always cooked it for a long time, otherwise it comes out tough.

says:

I LOVE pork belly. I’m passing this one along to the hubs, as he’s the one who mans the grill. Looks delicious.

says:

Oh, Peter! Now I have to get some. The crackling is my favorite part, although the tender meat is so flavorful. I haven’t had it in years.

says:

My man would love this one!!! Of course he would also ask for a fried egg!!! My BBQ it’s not ready for the season… Maybe I could surprise him with this this comming weekend ;D. Thanks for the idea :D

says:

Peter, my husband is very good at cooking πανσέτες on charcoal grill.
So, he has to prove that to you, when you’ ll visit our village house:))

says:

We’ve been in grilling mode lately too…but I have to admit we haven’t tried pork belly yet. It’s a shame because that looks so, so, so GOOD!

says:

Admittedly, I’ve never cooked pork belly at home…(I wish I had a bbq!) but I am tempted to try this using the griller (broiler). I love that bread is served with this as well!

says:

Absolutely gorgeous.

Have to say though, I’d go for minted new potatoes instead of fries.

But you’re bang on the money with the crackling: there’s almost too much flavor in there.

says:

i’ve never made pork belly but it looks tasty! love the grilling pictures :) they’re cheering my up on the rainy day we’re having here in DC!

says:

this looks as good (maybe better) than the similar stuff we do at the korean restaurant. yours looks cut just a tad bit thicker, which i like. pork belly would be up on my top 10 “death row last meal list”. that’s not depressing at all.

says:

Wow. What a delicious way to prepare piggy. I adore leaving the skin on, but I’ve never grilled pork belly. Needless to say, as a good Southern girl, this must be tried. Pork fat and cracklins rule.

says:

I keep seeing these amazingly tasty look recipes for pork bellies and I have yet to try cooking them. I am definitely going to have to pick some up this summer to try.

says:

These look so moreish and are making me ever so hungry right now. I made sweet ginger pork belly strips last Sunday, however I feel the need to acquire some more pork belly pronto!

says:

Peter (Πέτρο?)
Τέλειο το blog σου, το’βαλα στα boomarks μου κιόλας!

Φιλάκια
Joey
Souidezes

says:

Peter thanks for the cooking lesson today! I will have to look for this cut of meat. The photos are lovely and I love how you have presented it with the bread and French Fries.

says:

Drool worthy pics there Peter, my dad loved cracklin, I have never tried pork belly but this sure looks like something I would love to taste.

says:

*wipes drool off keyboard*

This looks so delicious. I want some now. Honestly just the word pork belly makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Sadly, there is none to be had in my neighborhood. To find it I’ll have to make a special trip. When I find it, you can bet this stuff is going to be cooked and eaten as soon as it enters the house.

says:

I love the photo with the pork belly and the bread making alternating layers. The bread soaking up all those yummy porky juices!

says:

This looks like the perfect BBQ cut. Everything looks so delicious. You described it perfectly, I can almost taste it. I love pork!Geez, I’d go order a few drinks at that bar and enjoy these tasty tidbits. That was a win win situation!

says:

Amazing meal, Peter! I’ve been so curious about pork belly and have been hearing about it everywhere. Thanks for providing all the yummy details. Now I have to figure out where to get it around here.

says:

I don’t eat pork, but this BBQ certainly looks mouth-watering! Tell you what, I’ll let others eat the pork, I’ll just hog the Greek fries ;)

kostas

says:

Whoever said porkasm is right!it reminds me back home in Greece omg its just amazing I can’t stop eating them my son who grew up in USA try one and he wanted them everyday lol…..long live the pork!
Hellas for ever!