Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roasted Layered Herbed Pork Belly

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I woke up early this morning to marinate the pork belly for grilling, knowing that it will be rock solid so some time is needed for thawing the pork.  However, I am not in the mood to grill meat and to even marinate the pork with the usual soy sauce based marinating.  I know that grilling pork belly or liempo will not produce those lovely crackling fats that would make one hell of deafening crunchy sound as you take your bite on the meat.

The solution, oven roasted pork belly.  The thing is, the pork belly is already cut in to strips and not in its slab form and roasting it in its current cut would easily dry the meat.  And here comes my light bulb moment, tie them up together.  So what I did was to divide the three long strips of pork belly, about 12 inches long and 1 inch thick, in to two.  Heavily rub one side of the meat with mixed dry herbs, stack them together and tie them.  Roast over maximum temperature and lower the temperature to 170 degrees and then switch the oven to grilling mode and voila, crunchy pork crackling on the outside with soft and tender meat inside.

To add more flavor to the dish, I made some vinegar dipping made of white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, grated garlic and ginger, chopped onions and chili.  Dip the pork belly into the vinegar dipping sauce and paired it with hot steaming rice and we had our sinful Saturday lunch today.

3 pieces                                 Pork Belly Strips (12 inches long and 1 inch thick)
3 Tablespoons                        Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons                        Dry Rosemary
2 teaspoons                            Salt
2 teaspoons                            Black Pepper
3 cloves                                 Garlic, thinly sliced
Olive Oil

Vinegar Sauce
1 piece                                    Onion, chopped
1 clove                                    Garlic, grated
1 thumb-sized                          Ginger, grated
1 piece                                    Chili
1/4 cup                                    White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon                            Balsamic Vinegar
Salt to taste


Divide the pork belly strip in to two equal parts.  Pat dry to remove excess water.

Combine Italian seasoning, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Generously rub the surface of 5 pork belly strips.  The remaining pork belly will serve as the closure part of the stack.  Remember to reserve some portion of the dry rub for the outside surface of the meat stack.  Place the sliced garlic on the 5 pork belly strips.

Stack them up and tie.

Rub the outside surface of the tied pork belly with the remaining dry rub. Drizzle some olive oil and rub the outside surface of the pork belly.  Spring some salt on top of the pork fat.  This will help in making those beautiful crispy pork cracklings.

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Baked at 280 degrees Celsius preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Bring down the temperature to 180 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes.  Switch to grill mode and grill the meat for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork fat is crispy.  Don't worry with the high temperature, the meat won't go dry as we have a thick layer of pork fat that continuously melts and moistened the pork meat.  Chopped it up and served with the vinegar dipping sauce.

For the vinegar dipping sauce, combine everything in a small bowl and season with salt to taste.  Not too much salt, just enough salt to balance the acidity of the vinegar.

Beware that while cooking this dish, your kitchen will be filled with the nice aroma of rosemary but do not be tempted to open the oven door from time to time.  Just bear with the mouthwatering aroma of this dish and it will all pay off.

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