Around 2005, a unilateral decree was handed down ordering every restaurant in the country to start serving pork belly. MSF was certainly not immune to the charms of this hallowed cut of meat, even if it’s played out. There are a lot of ways to cook it, but if, like me, you enjoy eating things that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, you’re in luck. This recipe yields a thoroughly browned, crunchy exterior, as well as a gush of liquid pork fat when you bite into it.
Score the fat side of the belly with ⅛"–deep slashes every ½".
Repeat in the opposite direction, to form a grid pattern.
Cut slabs of pork belly that will fit in your biggest frying pan.
Combine the salt, sugar, spices, and water to make a brine.
Submerge bellies in brine, and weigh them down with plates. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove bellies from brine and pat dry. Heat a big nonstick or stainless-steel pan.
Sear the bellies in ⅛" to ¼" of pork fat to ensure even browning.
Once the fat side is browned, flip and brown the meaty side for 2–4 minutes.
Place meat in a roasting pan large enough to hold it all, and cover with braising liquid.
Cover with parchment and then two layers of foil. Place in a 300°F oven.
Pork belly is hard to overcook, so use a higher temp if you absolutely need to. The bellies are done when the meat is shreddable and the fat is melty and easily smashed with tongs. Cool overnight, then squeegee the braising liquid off the bellies back into the pan before portioning.
Portion into 1 ¼" to 1 ½" squares (bigger for the thinner parts of the belly).
We deep-fry the chunks to reheat. But portion and reheat them however you like.