Pork belly— it's not just for bacon. In fact, it's extremely well-suited to a nice long bath in Asian spices, an equally long braise in the oven, a pile of Jasmine rice and a spoonful of quick pickled cucumbers. I bought my pork belly in hopes of making pancetta but the 'cut a hole in one corner and hang it to dry for a week' part of Michael Ruhlman's recipe was a deal breaker. There is no place in my house where 6 pounds of pork, suspended 5 feet off the ground, would be safe from harm or ingestion by the dogs. George already knows how to open peanut butter jars, unzipper lunch sacks and speak Spanish— pork hanging from the ceiling would be a breeze for his extraordinary yellow Lab intellect. An Asian braise was the safest way to cook the meat and foil George's amazing knack for commandeering food for his dinner.
Braised Asian Pork Belly (Adapted from Emeril Lagasse 2006)
One full pork belly, about 8 - 10 pounds (you can substitute pork shoulder)
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup garlic, minced
1/4 cup ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion, minced
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp sambal oelek (chile paste)
4 cups chicken broth
Day 1— Combine the orange juice, pineapple juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, ginger, green onion and sambal oelek in a medium bowl and whisk to blend well. The pork belly will, most likely, be too large for your roasting pan so cut it in half and place it in a large (2 gallon size) plastic bag. Add the marinade to the plastic bag, squeeze all the air out and seal tightly. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
Day 2— Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour. Place the pork belly, fat side down, in a roasting pan, pour 3 cups of chicken broth and the marinade over and around the pork belly and place in oven. If your roasting pan is not wide enough to accommodate the pork bellies side by side, use two roasting pans and divide the chicken broth and marinade evenly between the pans. Roast for an hour and then turn the pork belly over and roast for another 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour or so. Once cool enough to handle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Day 3— Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator, uncover and skim off any congealed fat that rests on top of the cooking liquid. Add the remaining cup of chicken broth to the pan and place in the oven. Cook until the belly is slightly caramelized and warmed through, about 30 minutes. You can either shred it, as I did, or cut into slices and serve over rice with the pan juices.