Pork Belly and Roasted Potatoes
Roasted pork belly is one of my earliest attempts to recreate a restaurant dish. Yes, I have grilled many a steak, hot dog, sausage or hamburger, but this is different.
Searching for the Grail
I enjoyed this at several restaurants in faraway places. It’s hard to believe in a Razorback hog-centric state such as my adopted home, it was on nary a menu. Many people have never tried it. Some are put off by the name. Some are health conscious and fear they might die at the mere smell or taste of it. Veggie, pesci or other “tarians” won’t consider it based on personal principles. Respectfully, to each his or her own.
Desiring company on my road to cholesterol nirvana, I decided to lure some friends to the joy of fatty, bacon-y goodness. With commitments from several who promised to serve as my guinea pigs, I set about finding a recipe. A trip to visit family solved that problem.
A favorite restaurant, the 610 Magnolia Wine Studio, was hosting a special dinner and there were two seats left. My friend Philip and I scored. Providentially, pork belly was part of the tasting menu. Better than that, being two familiar faces, chef agreed to share his recipe with me and sent me home with his secret ingredient. Literally. I brought a tub of it back to Arkansas.
Chef Lee’s Secret
Ed Lee is not one of those crazy secretive guys and I know he won’t mind if I reveal the secret. It’s the dried powdered remains of soy sauce fermented in used bourbon barrels. Technically it was in the menu description, so maybe it isn’t considered secret. It is hard to come by because there aren’t many purveyors of condiments created by fusion of Korean and Kentucky cultures. It adds an earthy, savory component that you can’t quite put your finger on but you know it’s there.
There were some additional challenges to this dish. Fresh pork belly for one. My local butcher, as good as he is, only carried frozen stuff. Then there was the issue of size. Only five pounds plus please, neither of which fit my wishes or my baking dishes. Because my butcher is a real butcher, he figured it out and gave me what I needed. This experiment was a go.
So here is the recipe for Pork Belly with bourbon barrel soy sauce powder. Serve this with a good craft beer. We enjoyed Hazelnut Brown Ale from Core Brewing here in Arkansas with our meal.
- 3 lb slab of fresh pork belly
Pork Belly Rub
- Everything is proportional
- Mix just enough for the size of your (pork) belly
- Powdered soy sauce fermented in used bourbon barrels
- 1/2 the soy powder kosher salt
- 1/2 the soy powder brown sugar
- 1/8 the soy powder : ground black pepper
- 3 bay leaves
If you can’t find the soy sauce powder, make brown sugar the main ingredient and substitute a combination of thyme, oregano, rosemary and some mustard powder. The star of this dish is the Pork Belly! The rub is just a little something extra.
- 1/4 – 1/2 lb yukon gold fingerling potatoes per person
- olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- Mix the rub ingredients thoroughly in a blender by pulsing it
- Score the belly on the diagonal through the skin, then rub the mix into the belly both sides and ends. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap – cure for 36 hours. Don’t cheat on the time!
- Quickly and lightly rinse the belly and pat it completely dry. Don’t scrub the belly – leave a little rub on it.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place belly in a hotel baking pan FAT SIDE DOWN
- Baste in its own rendered fat every 30 minutes
- After 3 hours cooking test with cake tester. When there is no resistance proceed
- Increase oven heat to maximum temp of 500 degrees and continue to bake for 2-3 minutes
- Turn Belly over and baste then broil until the top is golden brown This won’t take 5 minutes. Watch it carefully to prevent burning
- Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes then cut into serving size pieces
Best to serve immediately, but you can make this ahead of time and re-heat.
- Remove from oven
- If belly is not uniform height, place a hotel pan on top and weight it down
- Place in refrigerator and cool down completely overnight and serve the next day
- Slice into serving size pieces
- Place in cast iron pan on medium heat to sear and re-heat
- Toss the potatoes in olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper
- Arrange the potatoes around the pork belly in the baking dish
- Baste the potatoes in the rendered fat every 30 minutes