Pork Belly sous-vide

Next to beef short ribs, pork belly is a meat that is often mentioned on eGullet as a favorite for sous-vide. I usually don’t eat pork belly, but I thought I’d give it a try and was not disappointed! Modernist Cuisine gives 60C/140F and 65C/149F, both for 72 hours, as ‘best bets’ for pork belly sous-vide. I tried both, and liked 60C/140F much better because it is as tender as 65C/149F, but much more juicy (the 65C/149F was really dry). Please note that at this temperature the fat doesn’t render, so you end up with layers of tender meat and layers of tender fat that taste great together. 72 hours may sound like a lot, but if you put the pork belly in your water oven on a Sunday evening like I did, it will be ready when you get home from work on Wednesday and you don’t have to do anything in between. Pork goes well with fennel and sage, that’s why I put those in my Italian style dry rub. Please feel free to use your own dry rub.

Ingredients

For 3 servings

600 grams (1.3 lbs) pork belly in one piece

butcher’s twine

For the dry rub

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground fennel seeds (or even better: whole fennel seeds, toast and then grind yourself)

2 tsp dried sage

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Preparation

Put all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Since the pork belly will be cooked for 72 hours in a vacuum pouch, you will need less of the dry rub than for a conventional preparation.

Rub the pork belly with the mixture on all sides.

Roll up the pork belly and tie it up with butcher’s twine. I bet you’ll do a prettier job than I did! The twine is not needed for the sous-vide cooking, but it will be for the searing.

Vacuum seal in a pouch.

Cook for approximately 72 hours at exactly 60C/140F. You can use the juices from the bag to make a bit of jus if you like.

Let the pork belly cool briefly to prevent overcooking. Sear the outside in a dry very hot frying pan (fattiest side first). No added fat is needed, as enough will render from the pork belly.

Remove the twine and serve in thick slices. Some people may prefer the crispy outer slice…

…or an even more tender inner slice. Of course you could also briefly sear the inner slice on both sides before serving.

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12 thoughts on “Pork Belly sous-vide

    1. That is not actually true (sous-vide was invented in the seventies to cook foie gras without loosing a lot of the weight), but a very nice thought nonetheless 🙂 It is certainly one of the reasons why I advise everyone to get their own sous-vide setup.

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  1. I’m slobbering here! I have this mind-block when it comes to pork belly —every time I cook them I end up using Asian ingredients. Somehow I can’t get over how well pork belly goes with a soy-sauce-mirin master stock. I think I have to break out of this block…and try something else that’s gorgeous. Just like the flavours you’ve used for this one!

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  2. This is something I would love to try, but I just can’t imagine the skin puffing and crisping up into lovely crackling like it does in the oven from a quick sear after. Am I wrong?

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    1. The piece of pork belly I used did not have the pigskin (rind), but you are right that this quick sear doesn’t produce a very crispy or otherwise special skin. If you like that, let the pork belly cool off some more and then deep fry it. I have not tried this, but I expect it to work wonderfully.

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