Pork Belly - it’s a funny name and oh so delicious. You’re probably most familiar with pork belly because of bacon. But there’s so much more to this rich cut of meat!
So what is pork belly? Pork belly isn’t the stomach. Pork belly is the slab of meat from the underside or belly of the pig. It might not sound very appealing, but trust me, it’s sooooo good!
Here’s what raw pork belly looks like. We remove the skin for you and there’s a nice layer of fat on the top. Each pork belly is 11-12 pounds, and we cut ours down to 2 - 2.25 lbs. The meat in the photo weighs roughly 5 pounds - it hasn’t been cut down yet.
If you’re still having trouble visualizing how bacon comes from pork belly, look at this.
When you cut a cross-section of the pork belly, it starts to look like bacon. Bacon starts out as a slab of pork belly and is then cured and smoked before being sliced.
But as promised, there’s so much more to pork belly than just bacon (which is also incredible!).
The key to delicious pork belly is really giving the meat plenty of time to cook. My first experience with pork belly was at a restaurant and sadly, I thought it was rubbery and terrible. Fortunately, I did some experimenting at home and learned there are easy ways to prepare pork belly that will blow you away.
My friends refer to my pork belly burnt ends as “meat candy.” The meat smokes for hours, developing a nice, firm bite and a delicious crust. Finish it in some sauce and it’s the perfect appetizer for a big party. Plus, once it’s on the smoker, it requires very little attention! Read the full Pork Belly Burnt Ends recipe here.
You could also leave the slab whole, cooking at a high temperature to get a nice sear, and then lowering the heat to get that delicious smoke flavoring. You could slice it up and make pork belly tacos. Pork belly is sometimes served with Chinese steamed buns. Because of the richness, it goes well with a spicy side such as jalapeno corn. Something acidic would also marry well with pork belly, such as a coleslaw with vinaigrette.
And although I did say that there’s so much more to pork belly than bacon, you could definitely make your own. Once you cure it, you could add as much or as little smoke as you want and then cut it nice and thick. But know this: Once word gets out that you make your own bacon, you’ll find a lot more friends stopping by for breakfast or brunch!
One important note: Because this meat requires such a long cooking time, it’s not on the menu in our restaurants. It’s available from the Grill Shop inside Rube’s Steakhouse in Montour, or we can ship it anywhere in the United States when you order at RubesSteaks.com. Our pork bellies come from pigs raised and harvested in Iowa.