KT COOKS: OVEN-BAKED PORK BELLY

11:27 AM

I always pass by several food stalls in one of my favorite malls and I almost always salivate every time I pass by a stall that sells lechon. C'mon! Who doesn't salivate over the gloriously crispy skin and super juicy meat of lechon? There is really something about the scent of lemongrass delicately perfuming this dish and the complex but pleasant taste of the herbs and spices used to flavor the dish that makes you want to shout "extra rice please?".

As much as I would want to buy a kilo or two every time I crave for this dish, it doesn't come cheap at all (not to mention the cholesterol). One kilo costs around Php750-850 on ordinary days here in Metro Manila. I bet it will be more expensive as the holiday season draws near.

So, what better way to satiate one's craving and save a huge chunk of extra cash than to DIY. Yes, I researched for recipes online and I hit the jackpot when I first tried to follow a recipe I found and just tweaked it a little bit for my taste. I did not roast this in an open-pit with charcoal for starters.

Here goes:


INGREDIENTS

1.5 to 2 kilos of quality pork belly (be sure to check the slice before buying it)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (distilled vinegar is fine too)
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt plus a little extra to be used before cooking
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black ground pepper
a few stalks of fresh lemongrass
1 red onion
1 head of garlic
an assortment of your favorite herbs (I used rosemary and thyme)
extra virgin olive oil


BRINING PROCESS

01  Dissolve salt in water.
02  Mix all dry ingredients left.
03  Pour water with salt and vinegar all over the meat.
04  Massage the herbs and spices to the pork belly.
05  Pour the vinegar and marinate for at least 6 hours inside the refrigerator.

PREPARATION BEFORE BAKING

01  Wash the meat so the salty taste will be lessened.
02  Pat dry and put a little bit of salt and pepper all over the meat.
03  Roll the meat with lemongrass in the middle (or bay leaf if you wish) and tie using a baker's twine. Be careful not to overlap the skin so the meat will be thoroughly cooked.
04  Brush extra virgin olive oil on the skin of the meat.

NOTE: Preheat your over while doing the preps.  Oh and yes, brining apparently ensures crispy skin all the time. Thank you! 


BAKING

Bake the meat for 1.5 to 2 hours at 210-220 degrees celsius. Make sure to turn the meat around for even cooking. After 2 hours, let the meat rest before slicing.


Serve with rice and enjoy! I used soy sauce and calamansi juice for the sauce. I don't like to make gravy (no matter how easy it is). But of course you can always buy the well-loved lechon sauce at the supermarket to complete the experience.

TOTAL COST - Php800 for 2 kilos (because Monterey meat is pricier than regular market meat)
SERVINGS - 8 to 10 

Do you like lechon as well? If you ever try to make this, let me know how it turns out. 

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