Happy New Year, hope you had a great holiday season. January is a quiet time for us so it gives me a good opportunity to do some creating and test out a few techniques and recipes. One I’ve been really excited to give a try is this pork belly confit. I will say, as good as duck confit is, I think I may like this better. I mean, it’s the part of the pig bacon is made with, and since everything is supposedly better with bacon…this is an easy winner!
If you’ve ever confit’d anything before you know the process involves salting and curing then slowly cooking in fat under lower heat. While thumbing though Ruhlman’s Charcuterie for ideas I came across one for pork confit and then turned the page and saw the one for pork BELLY confit. He refers to Chef Jim Drohman in Seattle who, at the time of the book’s printing, would make this and then deep fry the chunks. Yeah that must be pretty amazing.
I haven’t gone that far yet but I can say having a big tub of pork belly confit makes things very easy to whip up on short notice. Have a recipe which needs bacon or pancetta, like spaghetti carbonara? Throw a couple of spoonfuls of pork belly and fat into the pan and you’re set. Need a quick appetizer for friends coming over or something to take to a party? Shred the pork belly, whip in some of the fat and voila! Instant rillette. Stews, soups, braises, you name it, just add a couple spoonfuls to your soffritto or mirepoix. You’re not lacking for opportunites here.
Technique-wise making pork belly confit is very simple. Remove the skin form the belly, cube, cure, then cook in fat. One difference from curing a belly for bacon is this recipe calls for a slightly wet cure instead of a dry cure. I believe the original calls for adding wine, I used some Calvados instead, use whatever flavor you prefer. I also made a few changes to the cure, adding some garlic and using quatre epices, and since I had a big tub of duck fat I used that for the slow cooking instead of pork fat. I thought about using lard but hey, when you have a big tub of duck fat, why not use it and make the confit even better?
While the recipe in the book was for 6lbs of porkbelly, I made 4lbs, which while it seems like a lot isn’t really as much as you think. Personally I think it is a much more manageable amount, just enough for storing and using over the course of a couple of months. Of course, I am sure I’ll be really pissed when I get to the end of the bucket and have to make more.
As usual since the pork is cooked and then stored in the fat it will keep in the fridge for a long while. Not that you’ll have it that long but it should stay fine in there for months. I must say this turned out even better than I had hoped. So tender, and the quatre epices really give the pork and fat a fantastic flavor. Always curious about what others think I’ve been giving tastes to anyone who stops by and the unanimous consensus is this pork belly confit is out of this world and needs to be added to our market menus. It’s that good and, and yes I think it would be a pretty big hit with our fans!
Pork Belly Confit (adapted from Rulman & Polcyn’s Charcuterie)
- 4 lbs pork belly, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 32 grams Kosher salt
- 1/2 Tbs Quatre Epices (ratio for mix: 3Tbs fine black pepper, 1Tbs nutmeg, 2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp cinnamon; PS – I love this blend)
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- 1 Tbs thyme
- 1/2 Tbs fennel pollen
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed & minced
- 1 tsp Curing Salt #1
- 2 oz Calvados
- 3-4 C duck fat or rendered pork fat
Combine all dry seasonings and garlic in a bowl. Add pork cubes and toss to coat.
Pour in the Calvados and mix cubes to evenly distribute cure.
Place pork belly cubes and liquid in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 250F. Remove cured cubes from refrigerator, rinse off cure and dry. Put the fat in a sauce pan and heat up over low heat on the stove-top to liquify the fat.
Put the cured belly cubes in a large pot or Dutch oven. Pour the fat into the Dutch oven, make sure it just covers the pork belly. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
Place the uncovered pot in the oven and cook for 3 hours.
Remove and allow to cool. Pour belly and fat into a tub with a lid or if you don’t have one in which everything fits use some smaller containers. Place in refrigerator, the fat will harden and help preserve the cooked pork.
Spoon out when needed. Definitely use the fat! It’s got a lot of flavor.