Crispy Confit of Pork Belly with a Sour Apple Salsa

I loooove pork.  I especially love fatty pork – hence my obsession with pork belly.   And what a better way to cook it than in its own fat!

The first time I had the pleasure of eating pork belly slowly poached in its own fat for hours and hours was at the Gilead Cafe (Jaime Kennedy’s hip spot in Queen East).  I honestly can’t even remember the accompaniments on the plate because I was so infatuated with every bite of the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pork.

I was inspired by my experience when developing a menu for one of my client’s later that month.  The belly is a comparatively heavy piece of meat when it comes to pork (which these days is too lean in my opinion) – exemplified in its most common use: bacon.  In order for the belly to be edible by most people’s standards, the thick layers of fat nestled between the rich meat must be rendered down.  By poaching the pork belly in its own fat, it cooks in its own rich flavours and becomes supremely tender.

With most meat that has been confit-ed, you always want to add a tart, sweet and sometimes acidic component to the dish to balance out the richness of the fat.  In this case, I serve the confit-ed pork belly with a sour apple salsa, made from granny smith apples, some apple cider vinegar and a touch of maple syrup.

TO CONFIT PORK BELLY:

Salt & Pepper your pork belly the night before.

Preheat your oven to 200 F.  Buy enough lard to cover your pork belly completely.  Melt the lard in a saucepan/pot and add your spices (bay leaf, thyme, cloves, garlic).  Add the pork belly in rather large pieces (to be cut after it’s been cooked).  Bring the lard to a simmer and place in the oven for 6-10 hours depending on the size of your pork pieces.

You will know it’s ready when you can stick a fork in it with ease and the meat pulls away easily.

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Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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