Occasionally, I get a serious hankering for a street style taco. Usually, when that happens, I'll go with shredded beef or chicken, or even spicy tilapia. When I saw pork belly on sale at the local supermarket, however, I knew I wanted to try something different.
Hopefully, this recipe will inspire you to try something new as well.
As always, thanks for reading.
Step 1: INGREDIENTS
Pork belly is a very decadent cut of meat. It is generally used to make American style bacon. Most of the recipes I found on the internet using pork belly were of the "how to make bacon" variety.
You will need:
2 lbs pork belly. (Depending on where you get it will determine the size. I got mine from the grocery butcher.)
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground all-spice
1.5 tsp sea salt
-For this recipe, I procured a 4 lbs belly. However, since I didn't want to use it all for this recipe, I set aside half of it to make bacon.-
Step 2: PREP
Combine your spices in a bowl and set aside. As my belly came with skin, I chose to leave it on and make a series of diamond slashes in it to allow the spices to soak in. I placed the meat on a wire rack in a roasting pan and rubbed the spices on heavily.
-I placed the remaining spice rub in a bag to use for my bacon-
I placed the pan in the fridge for an hour, then heated my oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: BAKE
I placed the pan in the oven initially for 10 minutes. This allowed the spice mix to melt a little and let the fat and skin on the top crisp slightly. I removed it from the oven and reduced the heat to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the oven had cooled slightly, I added 1.5 Cups of water to the bottom of the pan and placed it back in the oven for 90 minutes.
After 90 minutes, the internal temperature reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
I wanted the temperature to hover around this point for as long as possible for collagen in the connective tissues to break down, so I lowered the oven to 195 degrees Fahrenheit and placed the belly back in the oven for another 90 minutes. I also added another 1.5 cups of water to the pan.
Now it was time to render the fat a bit. I raised the temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and removed the rack. I wanted it to braise in it's liquid. After 30 minutes, I flipped the belly skin down and added 2 cups of water and 1 cup of cider vinegar. After that, back into the oven for another 60 minutes.
Step 4: REST and SHRED
I removed it from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. I cut off the skin and the fat cap then I shredded that sucker.
I ended up with 3/4 lbs of tender, succulent shredded pork belly.
Instead of wasting the skin and fat cap, I decided to make chicharones (also known as lardons) I simply fried the skin pieces in fat until they started popping like pig popcorn. These can be either eaten like they are or added to beans/soups to add flavor.
Step 5: SERVE IT UP
I heated up some corn tortillas in an iron skillet and loaded them down with the shredded pork belly, shredded cabbage and lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. With a dash of fresh lime they were delicious!
I made another couple of tacos with the shredded cabbage and lettuce, Sriracha, and shredded cheese as well. They were so good I didn't even get to take pictures before they were eaten.
I think the pork belly was a success. If you decide to try this for yourself, please tell me how it turned out.
Have a great day!