Although a relatively cheap cut of meat, pork belly can be succulent and tender if treated with care. Low temperatures and long cooking times are essential to prevent the meat from drying out and losing flavour. Pork belly is therefore perfectly suited to being cooked sous vide as this method allows you to maintain consistently low temperatures over long periods. To ensure even seasoning, brine the pork before cooking.
- 1kg pork belly
- 2 litres water
- 100g salt
- Add the salt to the water and stir until dissolved. Place the pork in the water, ensuring that it is completely submerged. Set aside to brine for 6 hours.
- Preheat the water bath to a temperature of 64⁰C.
- Remove the pork from the brine, place inside a vacuum bag and seal.
- Place the bag in the water bath and leave to cook for 24 hours.
- Take the pork out of the bag and pat with kitchen paper to dry, draining off any juices as you do so.
- Transfer the pork to a tray, then place another tray and a heavy weight on top. Rest in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours. If possible, leave overnight.
- Remove the pork from between the two trays and slice into individual portions.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan, then add the pork and fry, turning as necessary, until crisp and golden on both sides.
Spices can be used to flavour the brine. A mixture of cumin, coriander, cinnamon and star anise would work well.
Sage compliments pork beautifully. Add it – or any other herb of your choice – to the vacuum bag and the pork will absorb the flavour as it cooks.
For a richer result, similar to a confit, pour a flavourless oil, such as sunflower oil, into the bag with the pork.
Richard Davies’ classic Pork, baked apple and crackling recipe will delight traditionalists. For a crispy finish, Andy McLeish deep fries his pork belly and serves it with black pudding, celeriac remoulade and apple purée while Luke Holder chars his pork belly on a barbecue to give it a smoky flavour.
Recipe courtesy of www.greatbritishchefs.com