Braised pork belly slices

Braised pork belly slices

For me braised pork belly is such an easy convenient and versatile ingredient. Easy to cook with minimum effort and maximum flavour, it just needs time to become tender. A popular recipe for pork belly is the Chinese red braised pork belly, or to give its proper name, Hong Shao Rou. However, we are going to make this a more neutral flavoured braising liquor so we can use them in other recipes.

These tender gelatinous and aromatic braised pork belly slices are perfect for freezing. Remove them from the freezer in the morning and they can be used in chicken bone broth, sticky Chinese pork belly and even a base filling for an omelette.

Braised Pork Belly

Karl Morley
Tender braised Chinese inspired pork belly slices. A simple comforting recipe and so simple to cook
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 5 people
Calories 958 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cm ginger sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic 4 small
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 tsp soya sauce Tamari soya sauce if gluten free
  • 1 litre water enough to cover the pork
  • 1 kg pork belly slices 2.2lb

Instructions
 

Blanche The Pork Belly

  • Place pork in pan and cover with water, bring to the boil
  • Once it is boiling and the froth starts to appear skim off with a spoon
  • After 5 minutes drain the meat in a colander and rinse with cold water (gently)

Braising The Pork Belly

  • Place pork belly slice back into the frying pan. add the garlic, ginger star anise and soya sauce
  • Add the lid and bring to a gentle simmer. This is important because if its boiling to rapidly as the pork becomes tender it will start to fall apart.
  • After 1 hour remove the lid and turn the belly pork over, replace the lid
  • after 2 hours remove the lid and turn the belly pork. Leave the lid off so the cooking liquor starts to reduce in the last hour to a thicker tastier consistency
  • On the 3rd hour check with a skewer to make sure it is tender
  • carefully remove the pork belly slices and place onto a plate to cool
  • turn up the heat on the frying pan to reduce the braising liquor to a thicker consistency
  • Once the pork is cool and the cooking liquor is reduced and cooled, dived into 5 portions (2 slices each portion)
  • add each portion to a freezer bag and then share the braising liquor between the 5 portions
  • carefully tie the freezer bags and then place in the freezer

Notes

If you want to eat the pork belly slices straight away then take some of the braising liquor into a smaller pan, reduce and then add the belly pork towards the end to reheat. 
Trust me, from experience if you leave the cooked belly pork in the fridge (once cooled) overnight it will be so much more tender the next day. 
This is why this pork belly recipe is perfect for freezing. Either defrost overnight in the fridge. You can take it out of the freezer in the morning and it should defrost before the evening. Ensure that once it is defrosted it is returned to the fridge until you are ready to use/cook the meat. 
Perfect served with my fried rice with microwave rice.
I always cook my slices whole because I can always cube them after defrosting if I need to

Nutrition

Serving: 200gCalories: 958kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 58gFat: 73gSaturated Fat: 25gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 210mgSodium: 4266mgPotassium: 1282mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 12IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 4mg
Keyword braised pork belly
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Pork Belly Cubes in a chicken bone broth flavoured with black beans garlic & ginger

Goes great with my Asian Slaw or cubed and then added to special fried rice

Picking The Perfect Slices

  1. Fat-to-Meat Ratio: Ideally, look for a pork belly slice with a good balance of fat and meat. A ratio of about 50:50 or 60:40 (fat to meat) is often considered ideal. This balance ensures enough fat to render into the broth for flavour and richness and sufficient meat for texture and substance.
  2. Quality of the Pork: Opt for high-quality, preferably organic or free-range pork (buy what you can afford). These options are more likely to have been raised on a better diet, potentially resulting in tastier and healthier fat. The quality of the pork can significantly influence the flavour of your broth.
  3. Thickness of the Slice: The thickness of the pork belly slice can affect how well the fat is rendered and how the meat cooks. A thickness of about 1 to 1.5 inches is generally good for braising, as it allows the meat to cook evenly and the fat to render appropriately without the meat becoming too dry.
  4. Skin-on or Skin-off: This can depend on your preference and the recipe you’re following. Skin-on pork belly can add gelatin to the broth when rendered, contributing to a richer mouthfeel. However, if you prefer a less gelatinous texture or want to reduce the cooking time, you might opt for skin-off.
  5. Marbling: Look for pork belly with good marbling – slight, even fat distributions within the meat. This intramuscular fat can enhance the tenderness and flavour of the pork as it cooks, further enriching the broth.
  6. Freshness: Fresh pork belly is always preferable. Fresh meat has a better texture and flavour, which can significantly affect the final dish’s quality. Check for a pinkish-red colour and a mild smell to ensure freshness.
  7. Preparation for Cooking: Before adding pork belly to your broth, consider scoring the fat (if skin-on) or cutting the meat into chunks to increase the surface area. This can help the fat render more efficiently and allow the meat to absorb more of the broth’s flavours.
fat to meat ratio 50/50

Supermarket Price Comparison Of Pork Belly Slices

Price Date Price (2024/03/09) Per Kilo
Sainsbury’s£8.50
Aldi£7.18
Tesco £6.78
Morrisons£7.18
Asda£6.78

Occasionally Lidl do a family saver pack of sliced belly pork, it comes as a 1kg pack (perfect for this recipe) and is under £7 per kilo

how the pork belly looks with the aromatics before braising

Why Braise Belly Pork

  1. Tenderness: Braising involves simmering meat in liquid at a low temperature. This process breaks down the connective tissues in the pork belly, resulting in a tender and succulent final dish.
  2. Flavour: The slow cooking process allows the pork belly to absorb the flavours of the braising liquid and any herbs, spices, or vegetables added to it. This results in a rich, complex flavour that is deeply infused into the meat.
  3. Moisture: If not cooked properly, pork belly can become dry. Braising helps to retain moisture, ensuring the meat remains juicy and flavorful.
  4. Versatility: The braising liquid can be customized with various ingredients, allowing for multiple flavours. You can adjust the liquor to suit your preferences, whether you prefer a savoury, sweet, spicy, or tangy taste.
  5. Ease of Cooking: While braising is a slow cooking method, it is relatively hands-off once the initial preparation is done. This makes it easy to cook pork belly with minimal effort, as the oven or stovetop does most of the work.
  6. Fat Rendering: The slow cooking process allows the fat in the pork belly to render out slowly, improving the meat’s texture and flavour. The rendered fat can also cook other dish components, adding depth to the taste.
  7. Healthier Option: Although pork belly is a fatty cut, braising allows some of the fat to be rendered out and discarded, potentially making the dish a bit healthier than other cooking methods that don’t remove excess fat.
perfect slice of braised belly pork

Is The Braising Liquor Good For You

Rendering pork fat into the broth offers several culinary and nutritional benefits, enhancing both the flavour and richness of dishes. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Flavour Enhancement: Pork fat is known for carrying and enhancing flavours. When rendered into the broth, it adds a depth and complexity of flavour that is hard to achieve with leaner meats or vegetable-based fats. The fat absorbs the aromatics and spices in the broth, distributing these flavours more evenly throughout the dish.
  2. Richness and Mouthfeel: The presence of rendered pork fat in broth contributes to a richer, more velvety mouthfeel. Fat molecules interact with taste receptors to amplify the overall sensory experience of the dish, making it more satisfying and enjoyable to eat. Like Tonkatsu Ramen
  3. Caloric Content: The additional calories from rendered pork fat can benefit those needing high-energy foods, such as athletes or individuals in cold climates. It provides a concentrated source of energy in a form that is easily consumed and digested.
  4. Nutrient Absorption: Dietary fats absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and antioxidants. Consuming a broth with rendered pork fat can facilitate the absorption of these nutrients from other ingredients in the broth or other foods consumed during the meal.
  5. Culinary Tradition and Satisfaction: Many traditional cuisines value animal fats for their unique flavours and the sense of satiety they provide. Incorporating rendered pork fat into broth ties into these culinary traditions, offering a comforting and satisfying eating experience that resonates with many cultural practices.
  6. Economical and Sustainable: Rendering fat from pork and incorporating it into dishes is a way to utilise more parts of the animal, reducing waste. This approach aligns with a more sustainable and economical use of resources, as it maximises the utility of the meat purchased.
  7. Versatility in Cooking: Rendered pork fat in broth can serve as a base for various dishes, from soups and stews to sauces and gravies. Its rich flavour and texture make it a versatile ingredient that can enhance a wide range of recipes.
  8. Improved Satiety: Fats are more satiating than carbohydrates or proteins, which can help you feel full longer. A broth enriched with rendered pork fat can be more satisfying, potentially aiding in meal satisfaction and weight management efforts by reducing the desire to snack between meals. This is definitely the case for me now I am on a low carb diet and intermittent fasting it does keep me fuller for longer.

References: Fat soluble vitamins, Fats fuller for longer

Why is my braised pork belly tough

your braised belly pork is tough because you probably haven’t cooked it for long enough. Also cooking at a to high heat can also make it tough

Do you need to cut the skin of belly pork

No you do not need to cut the skin of belly pork, it is edible so it is a personal preference

Why do you blanche the pork belly first

blanching the pork belly first removes all the impurities from the meat