I may have mentioned that Matt and I went to the UK last summer and ate a lot of pork belly. It was consistently one of the best dishes we had all over several parts of England and Wales. If there’s one thing the British know, it’s how to make excellent crackling (that sound you hear is Matt furiously listing all the other things British people are excellent at. (So far; crackling, funny shows, more funny shows, chicken keeping). I’m sure there’s more but we’ll leave it at that for now.
This was pretty much a nightly conversation on our trip. Emily: “We have to make this when we get back” (distractedly tries to figure out recipe). Matt: “Stop looking at me like I stole all the crackling!” (whilst licking crackling-glazed fingers).
Well, we’ve been back for six months and our local shop now has lovely local pork belly and we thought we’d finally try to make it in our local stove. In England, it was often paired with bubble and squeak, and a hard cider sauce but I really wanted to try a soy and honey glaze combined with the crisp crackling we found on our trip.
If you can get (good quality, ethically raised) pork belly with the skin still on – you’ll need the skin to get truly crispy pork belly – it’s definitely worth seeking out. It’s a very affordable cut and it’s also very rich, so you’ll want small portions. That being said, I wouldn’t bother cooking a piece smaller than about 2 pounds because it will shrink a lot in the oven and could dry out. There’s also so much you can do with the leftovers.
It’s absolutely lovely paired with a fried egg and this Pickled Cucumber and Avocado Salad (really any crisp, vinegary greens would be great). I also really love it with Sesame Roasted Pears and a tart kale salad. But my all time favorite use of pork belly is Bánh mì sliders. So, so good.
- 2 pounds pork belly
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil (like canola)
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1/4 cup hoisin
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2-4 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Sliced scallions (for garnish)
- Sesame seeds (for garnish)
Unwrap, rinse, and pat dry. Place the pork on a rack in a baking sheet lined with foil (or a roasting pan), Brush the vinegar over the skin of the pork and let sit uncovered in fridge for a couple of hours (or up to a day) to cure.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush a very thin layer of oil over the skin (this helps it get extra-crispy). Cover the tray tightly in foil and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
While the pork roasts, combine your sauce ingredients in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
After the pork has roasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and raise the temperature to 450 degrees F. Remove the foil and brush both sides of the pork with the sauce. Put it back in the oven, skin side up, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the pork again, flip it, brush with the sauce, and roast for another 10 minutes. Finally, flip the pork again, brush it with the sauce again (make sure to reserve a bit to serve the pork with later), and roast for 15 minutes, until the top is crispy. Be careful it doesn’t burn during this stage.
Sprinkle your crispy pork belly with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with rice, Sesame Roasted Pears, and the reserved sauce on the side.
*Full disclosure: I completely burned the holy bejeezus out of mine because I was distracted and wandered away for too long while I was glazing it. Remember the end of Time Bandits? Yeah, I thought it was going to go straight into the garbage, but I cut the burned top off and re-crisped it in a pan. IT WAS SO GOOD. Even the burned crackling was delicious (though scary-looking).