I love pork and in particular the fattier cuts like pork belly because they are so flavourful. I get it – we don’t (and shouldn’t) eat this cut of meat often but I think this is ideal for a celebratory dinner or for festive occasions like Christmas.
I served pork belly this past weekend at Amyndeon-themed Greek Supper Club with Alpha Estate wines. I could have sliced the pork into bacon-like slabs and roasted it and the results would have been delicious but I wanted my dinner guests to experience the mouth feel of succulent pork meat, flavoured with fennel, garlic, thyme and in the same bite, get that crisp crunch of crackling that’s been so elusive/hard to accomplish for so many cooks.
The combination of tender meat and crisp pork skin is tremendous. It’s not hard to accomplish but it requires patience and 3 days prep – but oh so worth it!
First, we have to prepare the skin but scalding it in hot water (open the pores) then poking holes with a jaccard and then rubbing the skin with baking soda (an old Chinese tip).
The next phase is braising the meat which also means rendering a lot of the fat in the meat. Once fork-tender, we’re almost there. Then, a chef’s technique is applied where weight is applied to the belly to flatten it into one smooth piece of belly.
Finally, the pork belly is cut into portions and placed back in a high heat oven to finally crisp up the skin. All that’s left to do is whip up this easy and delicious glaze of petimezi, mustard and lemon and brush some on the crisp skin.
Succulent and Crisp Pork Belly With Petimezi Mustard Glaze
a jaccard or metal souvlaki skewers
deep roasting ban large enough to just contain the pork
2 kg. boneless pork belly
ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2-3 Tbsp. sweet paprika
7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. baking soda
coarse sea salt
Petimezi Mustard Glaze
1/2 cup Petimezi (grape molasses)
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Carefully pour boiling water just on the skin, wipe dry. Flip your pork belly (skin side down and season the meat well with salt and pepper then sprinkle the fennel, garlic, paprika and thyme. Flip the meat and place skin side up in your pan.
- Use the jaccard to poke lots of holes in the meat (or wrap elastic bands tightly around some metal souvlaki skewers and use them to poke holes in the skin).
- Sprinkle the baking soda on the skin and place uncovered in your fridge overnight (this helps dry out the skin).
- The next day, take your pork belly out of the fridge/return to room temperature and pre-heat your oven to 350F. Rub vegetable oil on the skin and season well with coarse sea salt.
- Pour enough hot water (or chicken stock) into the pan (not on the meat) to halfway up the meat. Cover the meat with foil and place in your pre-heated oven for 3 – 3 1/2 hours.
- Take out of the oven and test the meat for doneness with a knife (there should be no resistance as you pierce the meat). Place back in the oven if needed, test again after 30 minutes.
- Allow the pork belly to cool in the liquid. carefully pour off the liquid from the pan (save the pork fat and stock for future use) and cover with plastic wrap.
- Place another pan over the belly and some heavy weights (tomato juice cans) to press the belly into a flat slab. Place back in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, remove weights, upper pan and plastic film and trim the edges of the belly so you have a uniform rectangular peace of pork. Cut belly into desired portion sizes and remove from pan with a spatula.
- Pre-heat your oven to 500F, place the rack on the upper third setting in your oven. Meanwhile, make glaze by adding the mustard and petimezi in a small pot and bring up to a boil while whisking. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, take off the heat and add the juice and lemon juice. Take off the heat/keep warm.
- Place your pork belly pieces on a roasting pan and roast for 12-15 minutes or until skin crisps, bubbles and finally becomes crackling.
- Remove from the oven, place on a bed of Katsamaki (Greek polenta) and brush some glaze on the skin and serve. Pair with Alpha Estate Xinomavro.
*Petimezi can be found at Greek, Middle Eastern and Turkish markets
**braised cabbage or greens would be great on the side
*** Remember those trimmed pieces of pork? Make Tsigarides (Crisp Pork Chunks) with them
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