The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Pork Belly

Everyone loves waking up to crisp, fried bacon on a Sunday morning — the aromas could drag you out of bed and the perfect crispness goes great with your eggs and pancakes. Anyone can make bacon and after all, bacon comes from the greater pork belly cut. When it comes to cooking the full belly, you could throw it in a pan and fry it like bacon, right? Don't get ahead of yourself — if you rush the process you'll risk ruining your pork. The pork belly comes from the part of the pig that you would expect — the super-fatty underside. According to Allrecipes, this high fat content not only gives it a unique and rich taste but also makes cooking this cut much different compared to any similar cuts of red meat.

If you come across the perfect cut of pork belly at the grocery store, you might get tempted to throw it straight in the oven and cook it like a brisket. Resist this urge, as many inexperienced home chefs try to cook pork belly too quickly. Slow cooking the meat allows for the full breakdown of the protein, and with so much fat in the cut, you want to make sure to really give the meat some time to cook all the way through. If you throw the cut of pork in the oven at high heat, you won't give it the proper time to tenderize, and no amount of heat or time can fix that.

How do you properly cook pork belly?

Finding ways to slow cook pork has stumped home chefs for generations. When you think of an ideal roasted pork, you probably have images of an outdoor BBQ smoker or a luau-style spit-roasted pig. Both of these methods involve deep, slow-cooking for good reason. According to Bon Appetit, pressure cookers on low and slow time settings take your pork belly to the next level. The pressure imitates the long, slow cooks of your favorite BBQ joint, while the lower temperature keeps the textures silky smooth and won't overdo your protein.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, don't fret — you have a few other tricks up your sleeve that you may not even realize. According to Allrecipes, you can confit your pork belly by brining your meat for six hours. Place the brined cut into a pan and cover with fat, allowing it to bake for at least 4 hours, and rest the belly before preparing the meat in any fashion you like to ensure an optimal pork experience. For a less fat-centric cooking method, opt to braise the pork belly by searing the outside and then covering with broth in a Dutch oven. Allow the belly to simmer until tender and enjoy! If you have been rushing your pork belly in the oven or a frying pan, try any of the above methods to take your cooking prowess to the next level.