GQ magazine voted this their favorite meat dish of the year, after strenuous debate over whether I should call it “fresh bacon” or “pork belly.” Whatever you want to call it, it is rich and delicious. When you buy pork belly, be sure to have the butcher leave the skin on.
1Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until the oil slides easily across the pan. Salt and pepper the pork, and add it, fat side down, to the skillet. Cook until the skin is browned, about 15 minutes, then transfer the pork to a plate.
2Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat and add the onion, carrots, celery, leek, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Return the pork belly to the skillet, fat side up, and add about 2 cups of stock (it should surround but not cover the meat). Bring the stock to a simmer, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Gently simmer the pork, uncovered, for 1 hour, then add another cup of stock. Continue cooking until the pork is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 1 hour longer.
3Allow the pork to cool in the braising liquid. Remove the pork from the liquid, then gently lift off and discard the skin (use a small knife to separate any pieces that don’t come away from the fat easily). Score the fat, making crosshatch incisions, then cut the pork into 4 equal pieces.
4Turn up the oven to 400°F. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids. Return the liquid to the skillet, bring it to a simmer, and skim off the fat. Return pork, fat side up, to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, without basting, until the pork is heated through and the fat nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve the pork in a shallow bowl moistened with a bit of the braising liquid.
Beverage pairing:Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, California. Pork and Pinot is a classic combination. The leek, carrot, and onion in this dish confer sweetness, which is best matched wine-wise by choosing a Pinot Noir from California, where the taste of the fruit is just a little bit sweeter than in Pinots from France or New Zealand.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.