Pork belly is a fatty piece of meat that is often used to make bacon and pancetta. However, it can also be roasted, resulting in flavorful and tender pork covered with delicious crackling. It's that dual texture (often in a single bite) that makes it irresistible and guaranteed to please everyone at the dinner table.
This roasted pork belly recipe is simple, using nothing more than basic seasonings and extra-virgin olive oil. The long, slow roasting makes for tender meat, and the increased oven temperature near the end of the cooking time helps create a crispy skin.
Serve this pork belly with beans, black-eyed peas, scalloped potatoes, or mac and cheese.
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Gather the ingredients.
Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Place a rack (such as a cooling rack) on a baking sheet.
With a sharp knife, make several parallel cuts across the skin of the pork belly, about 1/4-inch apart. Cut through the skin and fat but not into the meat.
Sprinkle the pork all over with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and rub it all into the pork.
Place the pork on the rack, skin-side up.
Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling apart. Increase the heat to 425 F and roast for about 20 minutes longer to crisp the skin even more.
Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Slice thinly, using the cuts in the skin as guides.
- Allow the pork belly to rest in the fridge, uncovered, for about 4 hours before you plan to cook it. The skin will dry out and result in a crispier crackling.
- Make sure the pork is cold when you score it so it's easier to cut.
- Placing the belly skin-side up is essential to tender meat because the fat renders it while it cooks.
- Adjust the cooking time for pork belly that weighs significantly more or less than 2 pounds or if your oven tends to run hot. The USDA's food safety guidelines state that the minimum safe internal temperature for whole pork cuts is 145 F.
Is Pork Belly Healthy?
For the best flavor, it's typically best to select a whole pork belly with nearly equal amounts of fat and meat. Pork belly has the highest amount of fat of any primal pork cut, though the majority are either good monosaturated fats or saturated fats, which should be limited in a healthy diet. Pork belly is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, studies suggest that eating an excessive amount of pork belly fat can increase cardiovascular risks.
Choe JH, Yang HS, Lee SH, Go GW. Characteristics of pork belly consumption in South Korea and their health implication. J Anim Sci Technol. 2015;57:22.