Today continued the confiting adventures with my slab of pork belly. After seasoning it generously with kosher salt and quatre épices yesterday, it sat overnight in the fridge for a brief cure. Today, it was time for a loooooong, slow simmer in oil. Ten hours! I split the slab into 3 separate pieces so that it would fit in my Dutch oven, and covered it with a mixture of canola and olive oil. Ideally, I think rendered pork fat would have been best to cook it in, but seeing as I don’t keep quarts of rendered pork fat around, I made do with the canola and olive oil.
glug, glug, glug goes the oil
I brought the oil up to 170 degrees – at this point, it’s just under a simmer. And then it stays at 170 degrees for 10 hours! It’s laughable, really, when you come to think of it — a fatty slab of meat cooked in…fat. 🙂
At the halfway point
after 10 hours of cooking
The layer of fat on top of the pork belly doesn’t render out, but it does take on a slightly translucent quality. The meat underneath shrinks up a bit, and it is meltingly, amazingly, unbelievably tender. I slid a knife in to test it and it was like slicing into soft butter…
I poured the oil through a strainer to filter off the stuff that had risen to the surface, and poured it over the pieces of pork belly in a glass container. After the oil cooled down, I sealed the container, and into the fridge it went to chill completely.
I hate to say it, but doesn’t it remind you a little of a science experiment?
Storing it in the oil protects it from exposure to air, and therefore acts as a way to preserve it. Because I only did a brief cure, it won’t keep for several months (like some confits do, when you cure them for a longer time before cooking in oil), but it should still last about a month…which is good, because it’s a lot of confit! I’m going to keep it in the fridge for at least a few days, but we’ll be trying it this weekend…and when we do, I’ll be sure to post about the results! 🙂