Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Easy Pork Belly at Home

fresh from the oven

Today I figured I would piggy back with my last post on doing bone marrow at home. This time it's another hot restaurant trend - pork belly (and thus the piggy pun).

I've always said - my favorite meat is pork. This luscious, fatty, moist meat is so versatile. Pork belly is better known to most people as what bacon is made from. The pork belly is cured and then sliced into thin bacon strips. These days my preferred way to eat it as a big ol chunk, roasted in the oven. The beauty is that you can do it at home for pennies.

This is where I do get a little nervous actually. You see, I'm afraid that pork belly will become like oxtail - expensive. It used to be these more unattractive cuts were used for scrap meat or, in the days of slavery, given to the slaves to eat while the big house got the choice cuts. These days offal and the lesser cuts are getting used more and more by new chefs who like to butcher the animals themselves and use every piece of them. That's wonderful in a sustainable way, but once something becomes trendy, it is in danger of also going up in price. Such is the case with beef oxtails. These toss away pieces are now not so cheap in the grocery store. Oxtails at Safeway are about $5 per pound, and realize that a lot of it is bone. So a good 2 pound package is about $10.

Right now pork belly is cheap, at least if you get it at an ethnic market. I can generally find it for about $2.29 per pound in Asian markets. Contrary to the bony oxtail, pork belly is all usable, so a better dollar value. Please, oh please, don't go up in price!

The video shows you how I buy, cut, store, and prepare my pork belly. Generally I buy a slab of it for about $5-7, cut portions, then wrap them and freeze them. When I'm ready to prepare them, score the skin side, coat them in your favorite seasoning, and bake on a rack over foil in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. I then eat it on top of a salad or I saute some greens (kale, spinach, beet greens).  Super easy and delicious.

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