What to Do with Pork Belly?

In the Sous Vide Recipes Forum
So, I just got my hands on 6.5 pounds of locally raised pork belly. I'm going to make a few pounds of savory bacon and also sweet bacon (and recommendations there would be great too) but I'm really curious what you recommend for the few pounds?


22 Replies So Far

I would say 83 for twelve hours, tried lower temps but the fat wasn't nice at all. See the site British larder on my recipe forum post for a spectacular belly recipe, reall really really nice and it got everyone talking.
I like 72C for 48h, then fridge and press, portion and sear on all sides to finish.
Hi, First post from me,

First, forgive the metric units. But when doing this kind of job they are 100 times easier.

I've been making British style (uncooked cold smoked) streaky bacon for a few years now. My standard method is as follows.

Weigh out 500g of nitrited salt (this is something we get in Europe. It contains 0.6% sodium nitrite, so in the USA you would probably have to use 50g of cure#1 which normally contains 6% of sodium nitrite and 450 g of kosher salt)
weigh out 250 g of demerara sugar.
Add 1 tbs of pepper corns, and any other seasonings you like
Now grind the lot together carefully, making sure everything is well mixed. Store in an airtight container. This is your dry cure mix and it's used as an equilibrium cure.

Take your pork belly, I like to remove the skin and bones, but you don't have to. Weigh it carefully and then weigh out the cure at the rate of 3.7%., So for your 6.5 lb slab (that's 2948 grams) you would need 110 grams of cure. If curing with skin on, rub this in 1/10 skin side, and 9/10 flesh. Skin off, 4/10 fat side, 6/10 flesh. Both proportions are approximate, though the total weight is critical.

Have ready a vac pack pouch of suitable size. Rub the cure well into both sides of the pork, slide it into the pouch trying not to touch the top of the pouch where it will be sealed, and if needed, add any cure that fell off. Wash your hands. Now seal the pouch. Measure the thickness at the thickest part. Label with the date of cure and the date of removal, which you calculate using 2 days plus 1 day per centimetre thickness. Typically a total of a week. Leave to cure in a cold fridge.

When curing time is up, wash with plenty of cold water, dry with paper towels and then leave to rest in the fridge uncovered on a rack to form a skin (or pellicle). This usually takes 24-48 hours. the bacon can be cooked as it is - what the British call "green bacon", or it can be cold smoked. I use a cold smoke generator in a Bradley smoker without heat, and smoke for one complete fill which takes 10 hours. Make sure the temperature doesn't go about 28C when cold smoking. The bacon can be cooked immediately, or cut down and frozen or left to mature for a couple of days. If vac packed, it keeps for a long time in the fridge, though I'm not advising anyone to do so.

Unless you are afraid of parasitic infection of pork there's absolutely no need whatsoever to precook the bacon and it's much better if cold smoked. This gives a bacon that is as good or better than any dry cured bacon available in the UK even in specialist shops. As usual, the better the pork, the better the bacon. From choice I use a pig that has been brought up for me on a local farm.

Hope that helps. As for cooking it sous vide, I've no idea at all. I simply slice mine and fry it about 2 mins a side at most. Try it sliced, wrapped round a large scallop and grilled.
Thanks for the great description, it sounds fantastic!
As a sort of follow up. I've been experimenting with cooking fresh pork belly sous vide.

The fors ttime we salted it and peppered it and rubbed with a little dried thyme. I gave it 18 hours at 71° and while the flavour was wonderful and it was perfectly well cooked ("in between" from Jason's book) it was a little less tender than I wanted to serve it. So tonight we're serving another try. This was salted and peppered and thymed (a little less this time) as before, and after packing sous vide, it got 18 hours at 82.2°C as recommended (high and fast) in Jason's excellent book. After cooking, I cooled as usual and then today I warmed it, drained off the cooking juices and fat and then repacked under vacuum to be reheated for serving sliced. Beautifully tender. I'll make the juices into a simple sauce as usual.

It'll be served with garlic mashed potatoes using the confit garlic (quite brilliant) also from Beginning Sous vide, glazed carrots and herby courgettes.
A further follow up.

We served the pork belly to guests last night. It wasn't quite a total disaster, but pretty close to it. The pork was so soft and flabby that some of us found it nearly inedible.

So now... back to the drawing board;. Let's hope the brisket works better.
That sounds great Ian, let me know how it turns out. Once I get back from my France trip I'll be preparing the big pork belly I have downstairs and want to make sure I get it right!

Oh no, that's horrible. I'm sorry to hear that.
I'll go back to the recipe I found lying around somewhere for a flavoured up belly, that was pretty good in texture and have another go. In both cases that we've done it simply, the flavour's been wonderful. It's just the texture of the second one that was bad. The first was only a bit too chewy, so I guess that cut thinner it would have been fine. We'll get there. Of course the provenance and fatness of the belly matters as well.
Just bumping this topic up to see if anyone has anything new to add. I'm keen to try this and it looks as though 48 hours @ 70C is the way to go.
My first attempt, 4 lbs ~ 50mm at the thickest, brown sugar, fresh garlic and thyme. sealed it up an hour ago. Any recommendations how long I should (could) leave it in the fridge ?
Looks like I'm going with 70c for two days !
The first time I made bacon I left it in the cure for about 7 days, as per Ruhlman's suggestion.
I too let it cure for 7 days but I put sodium nitrate in the cure mix. Not sure if it is safe to leave uncooked for 7 days without the nitrate.
I have to watch eating cured meats (Gout) and yes, I ate too much of the corned beef I did recently, and paid the consequences.
That's why I thought I'd go with brown sugar, garlic and thyme for 2 to 2 1/2 days. I plan to remove it clean it and add salt/pepper and a bit of lard. Then cook it at 70c for 48 hours, chill for the weekend. Sound like a plan ?
That should work. What causes the gout? The nitrites? Anyway, the reason I ask is because I too have bouts of gout and have never heard of cured meats being the culprit. My indomethecin (sp) and I are best buds.
Off topic so I'll keep it breif .. but look up Purine levels in food. Purines convert into Uric acid in the body, and the ability (or inability) to expel the acid which leads to the accumulation to settle in joints.
Hydration, heavily salted meats, etc can result in a gout attack.
indomethecin (sp) is hard on ones liver. I "try" to watch my diet, however I failed when it came to that wonderful home cured corned beef (I used Morton's "Tender Quick" salt)
See the Cuisine at Home issue # 92 April 2012

PS; What is the preferred method of posting pictures ? photobucket ?

Soft and flabby is obviously not ideal but with pork I think it can still pass as ok :)
@Dave you can use an image tag to insert any images that are linked up on the web, so photobucket / flickr, etc should work fine. We're thinking about better ways to do it but for now that's where it stands.
[IMG]http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff202/perfectcircleservices/P1000666.jpg[/IMG]
Lets see if this picture works, if so, it's my set up, cut out the lid, cloths pins at the corners for a good seal, and a towel to seal the cut out.
This is my pork belly, 24 hours in, 24 to go !
Nope, sorry ...
Photobucket


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