Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stuffed pork belly

I'm kind of obsessed with this cut of pork, which you may already know from my previous postings -  Fun with Pork Belly - in multiple parts. Fatty delicious belly of pork, bacon is made from this cut, spare ribs are cut from it and it hold the intense flavor... the essence of pig. OK, I obviously have issues here so let's not linger. I'm not reinventing the wheel with this one, it's just my interpretation of a classic - Porchetta.

It is simply pork belly stuffed with a onion and herb bread stuffing which is then rolled, tied and smoked.

I started with a whole, de-boned, pork belly. Squared it up and cut off any excess fat from belly, retaining any nice pieces of meat.

I then butterflied the belly to "open" it up and make room for stuffing.

At this point, before introducing the stuffing, I rubbed the belly meat with a roasted garlic, herb and salt paste.

For paste:
slowly roast 5 cloves garlic in 4TBS olive oil along with
fresh oregano and basil.
When garlic is soft, pore into bowl and
mash with back of  fork.
Add enough kosher salt to create a paste.

After applying garlic paste, it's time to stuff this belly. Evenly spread stuffing and any extra pieces of pork meat onto the belly.


2 sticks butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
fresh oregano
fresh basil
fresh thyme
seasoned bread stuffing cubes
chicken stock
Cook first 6 ingredients until soft. add bread and stock
till proper consistency

Now "close" the butterflied pork meat and roll belly bringing skin sides around to meet. Using butchers twine, tie rolled belly every 2 inches or so.

I placed on rack in a foil pan to keep belly off the drippings while cooking. I also put slits in the skin to allow fat to render more easily. Placed in smoker at 250 deg. and smoked with cherry and hickory wood.

After 2 hours on the smoker...

After 8 hours on smoker I transferred to sheet pan and finished in a 370 deg. oven for about 1 hour to crisp skin. Rubbing kosher salt on skin helps this process.

After it was removed from oven, I allowed it to rest for an hour before slicing.

YES - it was as good as it looked! The skin was not as crispy as I would have liked but the flavor of the belly with the herb stuffing was awesome. Cutting a nice wheel of pork and placing it on a sheet pan in a 450 deg. oven for 10 - 15min. will render a bit more fat and help crisp the skin. Serve on homemade garlic mash potatoes, I don't think it gets much better!

A note to the faint of heart, this isn't for everyone, especially those who may be counting those calories.

From Wikipedia:
A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has 518 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53.01g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9.34g) protein.

Well, with that said, it was delicious and I can't wait to try other variations of this recipe. Maybe pork belly stuffed with kielbasi and sauerkraut... we'll see.


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