Consult your doctor before trying this dish, it is not for the weak of heart. In Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s “Charcuterie”, they describe a recipe for pork belly confit used by Jim Drohman at Le Pichet in Seattle. Essentially it’s pork belly braised in duck fat and then deep fried. But believe me, the heart attack will be worth it. First, you’re going to need to secure yourself a pork belly. I got this glorious slab of love from Bobolink Farm in Vernon, NJ. If you join their mailing list they will email you when their meat (veal, pork, beef) becomes available and you can have it delivered to your door. The belly comes in a slab of approximately 10lbs: Cut this beauty into approximately a 6lb and a 4 pound piece. I would make the fatter end the 4lb’er, as the fattier cut is better for roasting (which is what I did with it).
Run a sharp knife along the underside of the skin pulling the skin back as you go. Keep as much of the fat on the meat as you can.
Cut into 1 inch wide strips and then divide into 1in x 3in chunks.
Toss with the following dry cure:
2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 bay leaves crumbled
10 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tbsp salt
1 tsp pink salt (I did not use this)
Cover the pork in white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.
Remove pork from cure, pat the pieces dry, place in an ovenproof pot/ dutch oven and cover with rendered fat (duck/pork). I needed a 5lb vat of duck fat to entirely cover the pieces. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, remove from heat, and then place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 2-3 hours.
Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in the pan it was cooked in – the pork should be completely submerged in the fat. Refrigerate until completely chilled or for up to 2 months.
Remove as many pieces as you’d like from the fat, wipe off the excess fat, and allow to come to room temperature. Heat a deep heavy pot of oil for deep-frying and deep-fry the pieces until crispy and heated through (about 2 minutes). Remove and drain on paper towels.
Deep frying the pieces in oil (you can also fry them in the fat they were preserved in) makes them a bit crispy on the outside with a melting fatty texture on the inside. Ruhlman suggests serving with a simple salad with vinaigrette, some good mustard, and a crusty baguette. REALLY. REALLY. REALLY. GOOD.