Saturday, January 5, 2013

Perfect Pork Belly with Chicharones

Pork belly needs to be revered as the greatest cut of pig [possibly meat] known to man kind.  The richness of the meat, the marbling of the fat and the thick skin all meld together into this amazing, mouthwatering bite.  I mean, it's the base for bacon - can you really go wrong?  There are however numerous applications beyond smoking to enjoy this great cut of meat.  I want to teach you a very simple, cured and roasted method that gives you juicy, tender meat and a crispy chicharones (pig skin).

Roasted Pork Belly with Chicharones

2 lbs pork bell (skin on)
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons dried mustard seed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- Score the skin of your pork belly 3-4 times in each direction, making X marks across the top
- Cover the skin completely with a thin layer of kosher salt and allow to sit, uncovered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  The idea is to draw all of the moisture out of the skin.

- Once your pork has cured, wash off the excess salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and move the oven rack as high as possible to get close to the heat source
- Rub the bottom side (the meat) with thyme, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper
- Place in a shallow baking dish and place in the oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pork belly
- Once your internal temperature has reached 145 degrees, remove and serve
- The skin should have a hard crackle to it

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