Oh pork belly. After years of being on the upswing of trendy foods, it amazes me how many people still don’t know what pork belly is. In my job as a meat distributor, I work mainly with chefs who are well-versed in their cuts of meat. However we often get calls from “general public” people (our term for those unassociated with the industry) who want to buy pork belly because they need it for a recipe, but have no idea what it is and are often worried that it’s some bizarre unusual piece of meat.
I then get to explain to them that they’ve most likely been eating pork belly for years — in its cured and smoked form, bacon. Usually they are shocked, which I always find a little funny. But it makes me happy to know more and more people who are not chefs are getting to appreciate this delicious and decadent cut of pork.
My point here is that pork belly = glorious, happy goodness.
Which is why for Thanksgiving this year my husband and I said screw the turkey, let’s cook a pork belly. We actually did a whole “Momofuku” spread with steamed buns, pickled vegetables and roasted pork belly (don’t worry, a full post is in the works!). It was an amazing meal, but considering it was a monstrous 12-pound piece of pork, we still had lots of leftovers.
Which means I had an opportunity to make this dish for dinner last week:
It was absolutely, positively as fantastic as it looks! I promise you. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to make it yourself.
Did I just hear you say “challenge accepted”?
Okay then, follow my lead:
Take your cooked pork belly. Ours had been rubbed in sugar and a bit of salt, roasted and then chilled so the slices came off nice and clean. Heat up a skillet with the tiniest drizzle of oil just to keep it from sticking initially (after it cooks for a bit, it will generate plenty of its own fat, trust me).
Once mine was browned on both sides, I drained off the fat and swirled in some maple syrup just to coat the pork.
Keep the belly warm and make your waffles. I took the easy way out because I was in a hurry to eat. I used my favorite cornbread recipe, mixed in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, corn kernels and thinly sliced serrano chiles. Once I had everything ready, I dug around for some accoutrements. Taking a cue from my friend Martha, I pulled out some cilantro, scallions and sour cream. Then it was time to assemble things: