Even though it’s been hotter than ever the last week or so, I insist on using my oven. It’s a mildly sadistic perhaps considering just how warm it is outside, but so far, each culinary sacrifice at the hands of the oven has been worth it. Take this pork belly as a perfect example. A few weeks ago, I attended a friend’s moving away potluck. A sad occasion, but one made better by tables of food. Because at the end of the day, breaking bread with people you care about creates a sense of solace. Hence why we call it comfort food. I made this pork belly fully knowing it would be the last time I would ever arrive at their soon-t0-be old home with an interesting dish in hand, so a little extra heat in the kitchen on a summer day was my last thought.
Pork belly has long been one of my favorite cuts of meat. It’s where bacon begins–before it’s cured, smoked and sliced. Yes, it is a bit more fat than meat, but that is part of its appeal. Crisp that fat, and you’ll create layers of texture. This recipe features a mildly sweet and spicy rub on the pork belly, seared on to form a seasoned crust. A combination of orange marmalade, orange juice and mustard mix and mingle with the pork’s natural juices to form a sauce as it bakes. That oven comes into play as the meat will need to braise in order to break down the natural toughness in this cut of pork. This pork belly would be great alongside sautéed bok choy and fluffy rice, or even sliced atop a bowl of noodles.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted fennel seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, plus extra for cooking
- 2 pounds pork belly
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon coarse grain Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- Fresh chopped scallions, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Place the brown sugar, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, celery salt, and pepper into a mortar bowl (or use a spice grinder). Use a pestle to grind the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes until they are broken down. Add the grapeseed oil, stirring to combine.
- Press the seasoning onto the fat cap side of the pork belly, making sure to cover it evenly. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange marmalade, garlic, mustard and orange juice. Set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium flame. Once hot, drizzle a little oil into the pan, and add the pork belly fat-side down. Sear for 3-5 minutes, then carefully flip over. Cover the pan with foil, slip into the oven, and roast for an hour.
- During the last hour, spoon the orange sauce over the pork belly every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve, garnishing with scallions if desired.