Pork Belly with Ginger, Honey and Soy

Serves: 6


1 pork belly piece (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1/4-pound young, tender ginger, finely grated
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 bay leaves, preferably fresh, partly torn
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups honey, preferably wildflower
2 cups top-quality soy sauce (shoyu or tamari)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

Chopped fresh chives


If the pork belly still has the skin on, carefully trim it away. Heat a heavy deep skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Put the pork belly in the skillet, fat-side down, and sear until browned and the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes; turn the pork a few times, but spend more time on the fat side than on the meaty side. Transfer the pork belly to a plate and set aside. Pour off the fat from the skillet (you can keep it for cooking the aromatics if you wish) and set the skillet aside (no need to clean it).

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat (if using), or the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and bay leaves and season generously with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until quite aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the honey and soy sauce and stir to help the honey dissolve. Return the pork belly to the skillet and pour the soy-honey mixture over. Bring the liquid just to a low boil over medium-high heat, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake the pork belly, basting it occasionally with the pan liquid, until it is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours, turning the belly over after 1 hour. The liquid should not boil; decrease the oven temperature to 225 degrees if necessary.

When the pork belly is tender, take the skillet from the oven and transfer the pork belly to a cutting board; cover with foil to keep warm.

Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, measure out 1 cup, and put in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat (save the remaining cooking liquid for another use, if you like). Decrease heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by a third, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste the liquid as it reduces, because less reduction time may be needed, given the robust flavors of the ingredients. (Overreducing can create too-strong flavors.) Add the butter and whisk so it melts creamily into the sauce; keep warm over very low heat.

Serving suggestion: Cut the pork belly on the diagonal into slices about 1/4-inch thick and serve it over a cannellini bean salad.

Adapted from the “Rover’s” cookbook

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