This is what you need to know to make a delicious and succulent oven-roasted pork belly for a meaty treat that never disappoints.
The pork belly is one of the most flavorful cuts of pork you can find. It has the perfect amount of both fat and meat so that neither feature overpowers the other. If you haven’t cooked pork belly before, give this easy recipe a try to make a delicious meaty dish for any occasion.
How do you make oven-roasted pork belly? First, score the fat, then season the meat, roast it in the oven at 430°F for 30 minutes, then at 320°F for 2 hours. Finally, let the meat rest for 10 minutes under a piece of aluminum foil, then serve and enjoy!
How to buy pork belly the right way
When it comes to buying pork belly, as with many cuts of meat, quality really matters. There’s a wide range in quality of this cut of meat, and a lot of it has to do with the amount of meat and fat on the cut. While you certainly don’t want pork belly that’s a majority fat, you also don’t want too lean of a cut, which will lack flavor and succulence.
First, when buying pork belly, look for signs of freshness. Of course, the expiration date is one easy way to check for freshness. The later the better!
Secondly, take a closer look at the meat itself. It should be pink, firm, and of uniform color and thickness. If you’re at a butcher shop or butcher counter at the grocery store, you can even ask to smell the meat. It should smell fresh and meaty.
The fat portion of the pork belly should be clear and bright white. Avoid any meat with yellowing or other colors.
The optimal ratio between meat and fat is about 50/50 for oven-roasted pork belly. However, if you prefer something slightly leaner, a ratio of 60/40 meat to fat works too. If it’s too much meat, your pork belly will come out of the oven dry. Too much fat and it will be greasy and heavy tasting.
How to make oven-roasted pork belly
Once you’ve made the assessment at the store and selected the best pork belly for your needs, it’s time to get cooking. Here are the simple steps to make a delicious oven-roasted pork belly at home tonight.
Because pork belly is naturally succulent and delicious, you truly don’t need many other ingredients to transform the raw meat into something delectable in your oven.
Start by assembling the following ingredients for oven-roasted pork belly:
- 1 pound pork belly
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
Prepping the pork belly
Step 1: Score the fat
The first step when cooking pork belly with any method is to score the fat. To score food is to make small, shallow slices in the surface of the product. Then, while the pork belly cooks, the fat will render and liquidate. It will be able to seep out and melt down into the meat, infusing the pork belly with flavor and tenderness.
To score pork belly, place the meat on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to make a few shallow slices all along the length of the cut of meat. Be careful not to cut into the meat, you only need to score the fat.
Step 2: Dry the pork belly
After scoring the fat, dry the pork belly thoroughly. Using paper towels, gently pat the cut of meat on all sides to absorb excess moisture. This will help the seasoning better absorb into the meat for added flavor.
Step 3: Season the pork belly
Now, it’s time to season the meat. Place the pork belly on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean-up. Then drizzle the meat with olive oil just to coat. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper then use your hands to rub the seasonings into both the fat and meat.
Roasting the pork belly
Step 1: Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C). Make sure your pork belly is fat side up on the baking sheet.
Step 2: Oven-roast the pork belly
When your oven reaches the right temperature, place the baking sheet with the pork belly inside the oven. Roast it for 30 minutes.
After half an hour, the fat should become gold and crispy. If you check on the pork belly and don’t see a crispy fat cap, continue to roast at this temperature for five more minutes.
This initial roasting step at a higher temperature helps render the fat and crisp it up for a beautiful presentation and texture.
Step 3: Lower the oven temperature
After the pork belly is looking crispy, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Continue to roast the pork belly for 2 more hours.
This might seem like a long time, however, the longer you roast the pork at this lower temperature, the tenderer it will become. Low and slow roasting produces the succulent fall-apart tender pork belly you’ll love
Step 4: Let the pork belly rest
Once your pork has roasted for two hours, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Cover the meat on the baking sheet with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. This helps the meat reabsorb any juices that were lost during cooking.
Finally, uncover your masterpiece and enjoy!
Are pork stomach and pork belly the same?
Even though they are similarly named, pork belly and pork stomach are not the same thing.
The pork belly is the meat and fat surrounding the stomach. It’s cut from the external meat of the animal. On the other hand, pork stomach is the internal organ. While fully edible, it’s rare to find pork stomach for sale in regular grocery stores.
What does pork belly taste like?
Pork belly tastes similar to pork loin. Pork belly is uncured and unsmoked bacon. From a fattiness perspective, the two are similar. It’s the perfect mixture between the right amount of pork meat and pork fat!
What to serve with oven-roasted pork belly
This recipe makes incredibly tender and juicy pork belly. You can shred the meat easily, which makes this an excellent filling for pork tacos. Or build your own bowl with a cooked grain and toppings like salsa, cheese, fresh herbs, and more.
Pork belly vs. bacon
What’s the difference between pork belly and bacon? Technically, bacon is made from pork belly. To make bacon, the meat is cured and smoked. That’s why bacon is full of salty, smoky flavor that everyone loves.
Other ways to cook pork belly
While roasting pork belly in the oven yields deliciously soft and tender meat with a crisp outer crust, this isn’t the only way you can cook pork belly.
Other delicious ways to cook pork belly include:
- sautéing it as part of a vegetable stir fry
- Cooking it with diced potatoes for a savory breakfast hash
- Topping ramen bowls with thick slices.
- Filling steamed buns, dumplings, and other pockets.
- Making pork carnitas
Truly, the list goes on when you get used to cooking with pork belly. It’s a delicious and approachable ingredient to include in your regular recipe rotation.
Can I replace bacon with pork belly?
Yes, in many recipes that call for bacon, you can substitute pork belly. You can even crisp up the raw pork belly much like bacon. First, dice the pork into small pieces. Then heat a large skillet over high heat and add the pork belly. The fat will tender and help the meat to cook. Cook the meat, stirring constantly, until the pieces are crispy and browned on all sides.
Oven Roasted Pork Belly
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- Roasting pan
- 1 pound pork belly
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (220°C)
- Score the fat on the pork belly with a sharp knife.
- Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the meat on a baking sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper.
- Roast the pork for 30 minutes, until the fat is rendered and crisp on the top.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast the meat for 2 hours, until very tender and soft.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place the meat on a cutting board and cover with tin foil. Rest for 10 minutes. Then uncover the meat, slice and serve.