(Pork) Belly of the Beast

Pork Belly

Mm… pork belly.

I have been messing around with pork belly, which is readily available at my new local market. You can’t go wrong with this stuff. I followed David Chang’s simple method in the Momofuku Cookbook: rub it with a salt/sugar cure, refrigerate a few hours, remove the accumulated liquid and wipe off the cure, then cook 1 hour at 450 and 1 1/2 hour more at 250. The result is as tender as pudding and ready to use as you please, on pork buns like at the restaurant or in a baguette for a modified bahn mi.

Chicharrones

You got me by the chicharrones…

Making chicarrones from the skin is just as easy, and loads of fun. Request skin-on bellies then shave off the skin by sliding a sharp knife down the inside surface, cutting as close as you can. (Chang warns against tearing the skin but mine was pretty sturdy.) Boil 90 minutes, then scrape off every morsel of remaining fat with the edge of a spoon. Dehydrate until the skin is completely dry: I do this by setting it on a rack above a plate on top of a gas heater. Break the skin into small pieces which will then keep at room temperature for several days.

To fry, put some oil in a small high sided pot (I used a syrup/milk warmer) and heat to 390 degrees. Fry off the skin bits one at a time and watch the fun: they swell up almost instantly to several times their size, like one of those smoke-producing snakes we used to burn at 4th of July. It only takes a few seconds for this to happen, then take your new chicharron out of the pot before it burns. Sprinkle with salt while still hot and devour.

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