Slow Roasted Bourbon Pork Belly
I had never cooked pork belly before last night. Leading up to dinner time, I spent a few days researching how to cook it, how to season it, how to ASK for it at the butcher shop and how much would be considered a serving. After the research was complete, I had a good feel for how long to cook it but wasn’t sold on seasoning. I dug into my knowledge of pork, fat and bourbon – how those flavors go together and just went for it. The difficulty I ran into in the researching process was that I found a lot of BBC recipes, so I also had to convert the measurements and temperatures to what I am familiar with. Not a big deal, but a road block for sure.
Slow Roasted Bourbon Pork Belly
1 lb. Pork belly
2 T Sunflower oil
1 T Black peppercorns, crushed
1/4 T Fresh Thyme
1/4 T Fresh Rosemary
1/4 C. Bourbon
1/4 C Brown sugar
1/4 T Whole cloves
1/4 Piece of Cinnamon stick
2 T Maple Syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Small sweet onions
- Preheat oven to 350
- To prepare the pork belly, place it on a cutting board fat side up and score the fat by making three large X.
- Drizzle 1/2 the oil on the fat side.
- Crush your peppercorns, thyme and rosemary in a mortar and pestle or flavor shaker then rub them into the oiled side of the pork.
- Cut one of your onions into circles that are about 1/2 inch thick and place them in your baking dish.
- Lay the pork on top of the onions so that it is out of the pan and does not cook in the fat below.
- Place in the oven and cook for an hour.
- Pull the meat out of the oven and baste then put it back in.
- Cook for 1 1/2 hours, basting with the fat ever 20 minutes.
- Combine your bourbon, brown sugar, maple syrup, cloves and cinnamon stick in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Pull the meat out of the oven and turn it up to 400 degrees.
- Chop up the other onion and sprinkle the pieces around the pork belly.
- Paint on some of the bourbon mixture, then put the pork back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes. Baste at the 15 minute mark again with the bourbon mixture and the fat.
- Pull the pork out of the oven and place it on a cutting board to let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- While it’s resting, place your baking dish on the stove set to medium heat and sautee the onions for a few minutes.
- Cut the pork into 4 pieces, plate the onions then put the pork slices on top.
The first question you need to ask yourself before you buy your meat – do I want the skin on or skin off? If you want it off, the butcher will certainly cut it off for you. To be honest, when I purchased mine, I didn’t know you could get it either way, and just asked for the pork belly. It was butchered for me on spot with no skin on it. After some additional reading, it seemed like this was the right choice for a first timer. From what I read, with the skin on you can have a more difficult time not having very dry meat. Even though I wanted to try pork cracklin, I’d rather not have to worry about more than necessary this first time.
Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 °F
Ok, so scoring the fat side is important, whether or not you purchased your pork belly with the skin on, because it opens up the fat and allows more flavor to sink down into the meat below. You do this by taking a sharp knife and making large X marks down the top side.
Pretty simple! Try not to cut the actual meat, just the fat.
After this is complete, drizzle your oil and pat your herbs on top of that. Cut an onion into slices about 1/2 inch thick and place them in the pan to rest your meat on. This will help keep the meat from cooking in the fat and drying out the bottom. The fat will drip into the bottom and make those onions fantastic without damaging the bottom of the meat.
Put this delightful dish in the oven and cook for an hour. After this time is up, begin basting with the dripped fat. Set your timer for another hour and a half and then baste every 20 minutes.
I was worried I wouldn’t have enough liquid drippings, but man did that meat produce some fat. After an hour and a half has passed, and your meat is basted and happy, pull the pan out and turn your oven up to 400 ° F. Surround the pork belly with chopped onions then place the meat back in and baste with your bourbon mixture while cooking over the next 30 minutes.
The lovely bacon steak is now resting comfortably while you prepare the onions. Place the baking dish over an eye on the stove set to medium and let them cook down for about 10 minutes.
I cut mine into 4 pieces, gave three to my dinner guest and ate one myself. It was quite filling. The meat was very tender and moist, but my top did get a little overcooked. If I were to do it again, I may lower the rack in the oven or cook for a longer period of time at a lower heat. Any suggestions for next time are certainly welcome!