How to cure, cut and cook your way to flavor-filled happiness
PORK BELLY | Jeff Farmer, Executive Chef, Lucky Restaurant, Roanoke
5 lb slab pork belly, skin off (grass-fed is best)
1 lb kosher salt
1⁄2 lb organic unrefined cane sugar
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
Optional: 2 oz pink salt
Pat dry the pork and trim the slab so the sides are even. Mix the dry ingredients together and then use mixture to pack all sides of the pork belly. Put the pork belly in a large Ziploc bag and set in the refrigerator. Turn the bag every other day making sure the salt mixture has time to penetrate the entire piece of meat. Normally this will take a week, but if after seven days the pork is not very firm to the touch continue to cure for several more days.
Once the pork belly has finished curing, rinse it under cold water to remove the excess salt. Cut off a small piece and fry it as you would any other store-bought bacon. If it is too salty, let it soak in cold water for several hours. After this, smoke the pork under very slow heat for up to five hours using apple wood to add flavor; this cuts down on the final cooking time. Cut the pork belly into 11⁄2 inch cubes and spread evenly on a thick sheet pan. Cook on the grill at a very low temperature. Cooking time will vary depending on your grill. When the pork belly is ready the fat will be extremely tender: if you can slice through it with a spatula or tongs it is ready. Turn up the heat just enough to crisp on the outside, and serve. Serves 8.
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