How is Pork Belly Prepared?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Pork bellies are used to create bacon.
Pork bellies are used to create bacon.

Pork belly can be prepared in a number of different ways, depending on the preferences of the cook and the desired results for the belly itself. One of the most common ways to prepare this cut of meat is to cure and smoke it; this produces a food that is commonly referred to as bacon in the US. The belly can also be braised for long, slow cooking and will withstand this cooking method better than other cuts of pork. Pork belly that is braised can then be served with a number of different accompaniments, though it can also be seared after braising for a different texture.

Pork belly is often served with polenta.
Pork belly is often served with polenta.

As the name suggests, pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the belly or underside of a pig. While different cuts from this area can have somewhat different textures and compositions, in general it consists of alternating layers of meat and fat. There are different breeds of pig that can generate pork bellies with fairly different properties, though generally this cut is fairly similar among breeds. The way in which pork belly is prepared can vary a great deal and dictates the texture and way in which the belly can best be used.

There are a variety of ways to prepare pork belly.
There are a variety of ways to prepare pork belly.

One of the most common preparations of pork belly is curing and smoking the meat. Curing typically consists of a dry rub of salt, sometimes with other ingredients, that is allowed to sit on the meat. This draws moisture out of the meat, creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria and increasing the natural flavors of the meat. When pork belly is prepared in this way, it is often referred to as bacon.

Pork belly can be braised and slow-cooked.
Pork belly can be braised and slow-cooked.

Pork belly can also be prepared for a number of different dishes and braising is a common and preferred way of preparing the belly. Due to the high amount of fat on this cut of meat, it will typically stand up quite well to long cooking and braising without taking on an unpleasant texture. The types of liquids used for this braising vary depending on different recipes and types of cooking, and braised pork is quite common in many types of Asian cuisine and is becoming increasingly popular in American cooking as well. Once pork belly is braised, it can be served on rice or with sides like polenta, and it can also be removed from braising liquid and seared to take on a firmer, even crispy exterior.

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    • Pork bellies are used to create bacon.
      By: Viktor
      Pork bellies are used to create bacon.
    • Pork belly is often served with polenta.
      Pork belly is often served with polenta.
    • There are a variety of ways to prepare pork belly.
      By: Whitebox Media
      There are a variety of ways to prepare pork belly.
    • Pork belly can be braised and slow-cooked.
      By: Viktor
      Pork belly can be braised and slow-cooked.
    • Pork belly, cut from the underside of a hog, is only one of the many possible cuts of pork.
      By: Eric Isselée
      Pork belly, cut from the underside of a hog, is only one of the many possible cuts of pork.
    • Pork belly is usually seasoned using a dry rub of salt and spices.
      By: Monkey Business
      Pork belly is usually seasoned using a dry rub of salt and spices.
    • Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
      By: Matthew Antonino
      Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
    • Salt-curing and smoking is a popular way to prepare pork belly.
      By: umberto leporini
      Salt-curing and smoking is a popular way to prepare pork belly.