In this household, we are big fans of pork belly. We Greeks generally love pork, so it is actually a very pig part of our ethnic cuisine. I usually purchase a slab of pork belly and simply sliceit into 1/2 inch thick pieces and fry it like I would bacon. This time I wanted to try my hand at roasting it instead.
Roasting the pork belly really crisps up the top so that it actually cracks and crunches, much like a chicharron, while the natural fatty layer bastes the meat so that it is super juciy and succulent.
You will be starting the roasting process at high heat in order to create the crackling crispy crust and them continue the cooking at a much lower heat for that slow cooked juiciness.
You want to begin by making some very shallow slices into the top layer of the pork belly. In butcher shops you can find pork belly with the skin, which is the ideal way to purchase it. It is the skin that creates the chicharon layer. If you have found it without the skin, but rather with the fat as the top layer, you can still make this recipe. I did and it came out beauttifully!
I made a cross hatch pattern in the top layer of my pork belly, and then I left it overnight uncovered in the refrigerator. This is important because it will dry up the top so that there is no moisture, in order for you to achieve that crispiness you desire for this recipe. It should stay in there minumum four hours.
1 -2 lbs pork belly slab
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
As mentioned above, make shallow slices into the very top layer of yoru pork belly. Leave it in the refrigerator over night. When you are ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 500 F.
Line your roasting pan with aluminum foil. It is best roasted on a rack. Instead of a roasting rack, I actually used some leftover fennel fronds and an onion to create a rack in the pan, and add fragrance and and extra dose of flavor.
Generously salt and pepper both sides of your pork belly. Work it into the cracks on the top that you created. Rub it with the olive oil. Place it in the oven right away. If you allow the rok belly to sit with the salt on itat room temperature, the salt with draw out the moisture and you will not achieve the crispy crust that we want here. That was why you dried it out overnight in the refrigerator.
Roast it for 1 hour at 500 F. After you see that the top has become crispy and you can tap it, then lower the temperature to 300 F and let it cook for another 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your slab of pork belly. You will know that it is ready with the juices run clear, and not milky. Also the meat will be pull apart tender.
When it is ready serve it with a generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice and some dry oregano..