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Pork Belly Confit

Before we begin, I want to say that what I doing in this experiment is a Confit in only the loosest sense of the word. As readers will recall from my post on Pork Belly, not only do my wife and I really enjoy eating the meat, I love cooking with the rendered fat. Unfortunately, fresh Pork belly only appears in our stores infrequently so, when I see it, I tend to grab as much as I can. Yesterday, I picked up about four pounds of it and I decided that, rather than just save the rendered fat from separate batches, I would render it all at once and use it as a covering the cooked slices so that they will be handily available for quick cooking as needed. As I am brining the pork slices first, I will in fact be adopting much of the basic process for making a confit…

The Ingredients

  • 4lbs Pork Belly slices;
  • ½ cup Kosher (non-Iodized) Salt;
  • ¼ cup sugar (or honey if you prefer);
  • ¼ cup Applesauce;
  • 1 tbsp. Peppercorns;
  • 6 cloves Garlic;
  • 1 sprig Sage leaves;
  • Extra rendered pork fat or lard, as needed (not shown)

The Method

To begin, bring 6 cups of water to the boil and throw in the salt and sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Normally, the ratio for brining meat for a confit would be about 1 cup of salt for every 8 cups of water but I am making a weaker brine for this process for a couple of reasons: First, one would normally be using a single piece of pork belly rather than slices so the penetration here will be much quicker, and, secondly, I will be keeping the slices in the refrigerator so I am not too concerned about preservation.

Once the sugar and salt is dissolved, throw in the remaining ingredients and allow the mix to cool. You do not need to peel the garlic cloves for this, just give them a good smack with the flat side of your kitchen knife to crush them

Now add your pork belly slices and leave them to brine for about 4 hours. You may wish to cover the slices with a heavy plate or something in order to ensure that they remain submerged. Normally, the brining time would be ten hours or so but, again, we are using slices and don’t want them to end up overly salty.

Once the brining is complete, drain the slices, give them a quick rinse and pat them dry. Next, lay all the slices in as many pans as necessary, making only one layer in each pan. Heat the oven to 225 degrees and then pop the pans inside.

Slow cook the slices for about 2.5 to 3 hours until they are very slightly browned and have thrown off a good bit of fat.

You can now pack the slices in a dish or crock for storage. A real confit involves cooking meat in sufficient fat to completely cover in and this is most important for preserving it, particularly without refrigeration. I have departed from the proper method somewhat but I still have some extra pork fat from a previous rendering so I have added it to the dish and will give the pork another ten minutes or so in the oven to melt the extra.

As you can see in the first picture, I didn’t have quite enough fat to completely cover the slices but, since preservation isn’t an issue, this really is no problem. Some of the slices will simply be scraped of excess fat and then fried like bacon for breakfast. Some will be used in slightly more complex preparations and I will share the results of any interesting experiments in future posts…

 

29 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yum…looks so sinful with all the fat yet so tasty

    September 29, 2012
    • You have to indulge once in a while 🙂

      September 29, 2012
  2. I really like your style man.

    September 29, 2012
  3. Reblogged this on Yummy Lummy and commented:
    I really love the love shown in this blog to food and cooking. Look at all that lovely pork and pork fat.

    September 29, 2012
    • Thank you… I hope your readers enjoy. I haven’t used any of it yet. Just got home from travelling… maybe in a few days!

      September 29, 2012
  4. I agree – there is some serious dedication to the cooking art going on here Gary

    September 29, 2012
  5. Please let us know your verdict after you have completed this experiment. ….seems too fatty..

    September 29, 2012
    • Pork Belly is indeed fatty… It’s the same cut as bacon. You need to excercise *some* discretion in how much you eat (I suppose) but denying yourself the pleasure once in a while would be a sin!

      September 29, 2012
      • If you like fatty pork, you should try …梅菜豬肉…sorry can’t write that Chinese word….it means preserved vegetables with fatty pork!

        September 29, 2012
      • Tomorrow’s post is about 酸菜 …. I just replied to another comment here indicating that I will be using some of the pork belly with preserved mustard green! Good call 🙂

        September 29, 2012
  6. petit4chocolatier #

    Cannot wait to see the other interesting experiments!

    September 29, 2012
    • I’m thinking of maybe doing some with Sichuan pickled mustard greens first 🙂

      September 29, 2012
      • petit4chocolatier #

        Another interesting recipe!

        September 29, 2012
  7. There was just an article in the NYTimes about a 107 year old woman having a birthday. Among her longevity secrets was eating all the butter and porkbellies she wantes…

    September 29, 2012
    • Oh … don’t get me going on the current ‘fat-o-phobia’!!

      September 29, 2012
  8. Seriously. You better go x-country skiing to burn off this fat. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the photos.

    September 29, 2012
  9. Maybe you can take a whole year to demolish your preserved supply. Have it with some rice.

    As a child, I did eat some pork fat cracklings. Then my mother stopped making it…good thing.

    September 29, 2012
    • Here in the eastern Arctic the abroginal diet was almost exclusively animal protein and heavy with LOTS of fat…. whole meals would consist of nothing but maaqtaq (whale skin and subcutaneous fat). By current dietary ‘wisdom’… little Inuit children should have been dropping with coronaries at age 5. Heart disease has only became a problem as a western diet of highly refined carbs was introduced. The actual pork belly in the dish will last about 6 or 8 meals…. the fat will take months to use. Most will do double duty to preserve the next batch of pork belly (and maybe some duck breasts).

      September 29, 2012
      • I did want to try maaqtaq when I was in Iqualuit over a decade ago. They didn’t have it at the restaurants where I looked at the menu. Probably something that’s eaten at local festival events.

        What does it taste like? Or have you done a blog post about this? 🙂

        September 29, 2012
      • They used to serve it at the Frobisher Inn and the old Kamotik restaurant (now gone) … I will be doing post in a week or two actually.

        September 29, 2012
  10. Westcoast Foodie Blogger #

    As always your blogs get my taste buds fired up!

    September 29, 2012
    • Still haven’t used any yet … possibly this evening I will 🙂

      September 29, 2012
  11. Oh my gosh. That is what 4 pounds of pork belly look like?! That looks like a crazy amount and makes me a little scared to work with 15 pounds of bacon for the Takedown! Any tips?

    Looks great though!

    September 29, 2012
    • That’s a good deal more than I have ever worked with…. I’m sure you’ll be fine though 🙂

      September 29, 2012
      • I’m a little scared. It’s going to be decadent!

        September 29, 2012
  12. 7 deadly sins at once- looks irresistable!

    October 1, 2012
  13. Reblogged this on Rue d'Odessa and commented:
    Pork belly is a really amazing piece of meat…I want to give this a try!

    October 4, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Sunday Gravy Experiment Part 3- The Tomato Sauce Base | Sybaritica
  2. Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard Greens | Sybaritica

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