This columbian style pork belly recipe is hugely inspired by the crispy pork belly specialty known as the Chicharron Colombiano. I really love how pork belly can end up having diverse textures in just a single dish – a crisp crackling on top, a perfectly rendered fat layer beneath, and extra succulent meat with fall-off-the-bone tenderness at the bottom.
- 1.5 Kilograms Pork Belly
- 1 Piece White Onion quartered
- 2 Pieces Bay Leaf
- 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
- 6 Pieces Cloves
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- Combine the pork belly, onions, bay leaves, black peppercorns, cloves, and salt in the slow cooker. Cover with water and leave on high for 3 hours.
- Take the pork belly out of the pot and set on a cooling rack. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Chill the pork overnight.
- Rub the pork generously with salt.
- Deep fry over low heat until evenly golden.
- Set on a wire rack and leave to cool.
- Flash fry over high heat until crackling.
Honestly, I’ve had several attempts to get to this level of perfection, trying every cooking method from oven-roasting, deep-frying, to broiling. I’ll have to say that I’m quite happy with the results that I’m getting so far. Let me walk you through the tedious (but totally worth) process.
We begin by completely tenderizing the slabs of pork belly in the slow cooker together with our basic flavoring components. You can use any blend of aromatics and spices at this point, but this simple mix of onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, and salt does prove enough.
I used to do this step on the stovetop, which compared to using the slow cooker, required much more supervision as I had to monitor constantly for liquid evaporation.
I’ve also tried skipping this step, going by the more traditional way of gentle frying. Though effective at rendering the pork crisp, this method dries the pork out too much, all the way to those layers of lean meat which we all want to remain succulent.
Get the pork really tender, stopping just before the point that it starts to fall apart. Set it on a wire rack, and leave it out to cool to room temperature. Once cool enough, leave it overnight inside the chiller.
Allowing that layer of skin to really dry out is essential to getting the perfect crackling.
Take the pork out of the chiller and rub a generous amount of coarse salt all around it. Not much for flavor, we’re using that salt to draw out more moisture, drying our pork even more.
Heat up enough vegetable oil in the fryer to get the pork totally submerged. Fry the slabs of pork belly over low heat until it gets an even golden brown color. This process should take somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.
Once nice and golden, take the pork out of the fryer and set it on a cooling rack to drain off any excess oil and to cool down to room temperature. This step is again essential and will make a really huge difference to your crackling.
Once the pork has cooled down, get the oil in the fryer really hot and flash-fry those pork belly slices for about a minute or two. Because of the huge temperature difference between the oil and the pork, you should almost instantly notice that skin get those familiar blisters.
Finally, take the pork out of the oil and again set it on the cooling rack to air dry for a couple more minutes. Certain spots on the skin may initially be chewy out of the hot oil and should turn out brittle as it cools off a bit.
Why Is Pork Belly So Delicious?
The fat in pork belly is part of what makes it so amazing. This fat breaks down when you cook the meat slowly and gives you an amazingly rich flavor.
The cut also has plenty of flavor of its own, including a rich umami taste. Honestly, if you love bacon, pork belly tastes simply incredible.
Pork belly is a versatile cut that can be used in many ways. Here’s a selection of other recipes for you to try out. Some come from this site, while others are from further afield.
- Sous Vide Pork Belly Adobo. The sous vide helps to create an amazingly tender version of pork belly, one that highlights the rich flavors of the cut.
- Sous Vide Mustard and Molasses Pork Belly Strips. This recipe uses sous vide as well, but provides a completely different flavor profile. The combination of mustard and molasses is amazing and naturally complements the flavor of the pork.
- Sous Vide Chinese Pork Belly. While this Chinese style pork belly recipe is a little more complex, it’s worth every second. The pork belly is particularly good in Chinese bao buns, although other uses are delicious too.
- Oven Roasted Crispy Pork Belly. With this simple recipe, you’re roasting pork belly in the oven. It’s also a very simple recipe, featuring just four familiar ingredients.
- Honey Glazed Crispy Bork Belly. Want to step things up a little? This recipe could be perfect, as it features a delicious honey glaze.
Pork has a poor reputation as a ‘dirty’ cut of meat, one that might harbor disease or cause notable health issues. But, most of those perspectives are simply rumors or have been blown way out of proportion.
The biggest health risk with pork is related to the saturated fat content. This isn’t great news for pork belly, as it is a very fatty cut of meat. Pork could also raise cancer risk in the same way as red meat, partly due to the high temperature it is cooked at.
Still, pork belly has benefits too, as it contains a decent amount of protein and nutrients. It’s also low in carbs, which is particularly relevant for keto dieters.
In the end, pork belly has more health issues than benefits, but honestly, does that really matter? A healthy diet can still include less than ideal food some of the time. Having pork belly every so often isn’t likely to cause any harm at all.