Jim Drohman is chef-owner of Le Pichet, a bistro in Seattle that specializes in charcuterie. Local cooks have made Drohman’s pork belly a kind of a cult item within their circle, repairing after work to the restaurant for this fantastic example of confit, a variant of rillons, pieces of pork belly sauteed until crispy.
Jim developed his cure based on Loire Valley tradition, which introduces white wine to the cure. Other areas, he says, might use another alcohol, such as Cognac. The seasoning is a sweet-spice mix that can be used with just about any confit. The amount of cure below is enough for 6 pounds of pork belly, a bit more than most people may want to prepare at home, but, stored in a tightly sealed container, it will keep for months.
You could roast or saute the pieces to reheat, but deep-frying them, as Jim does, is the easiest way to ensure a uniform crust and a melting texture inside (from a calorie or fat standpoint, it would be difficult to increase either through your cooking method, even if you wanted to). Also, it’s usually juicier this way, as the density of the fat and the confit are similar; use either canola oil or the tasty fat you’ve stored the belly in for the cooking.
Jim serves this with mustard and, usually, some sort of spiced fruit preserves. In spring, perhaps feeling guilty about its high fat content, he sets it on some green beans dressed with a vinaigrette and sliced almonds. But it’s still deep-fried fat, no matter how you try to healthy it up.
At home, good mustard and a crusty baguette are the perfect accompaniments. You might also serve it alongside a salad with a vinaigrette.–Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 3 H, 30 M
- Makes about 12 servings
- For the dry cure
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 bay leaves, crumbled
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pink salt (see Note)
- 6 pounds pork belly, skin removed and cut into 1-by-3-inch chunks
- Dry white wine, as needed
- Rendered pork or duck fat, as needed
- Canola oil or rendered pork or duck fat, for deep-frying
- 1. Combine all the cure ingredients in a bowl and stir to distribute the seasonings evenly.
- 2. Toss the pork with the cure to coat evenly. Pack into a nonreactive container and cover with white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Remove the pork from the cure and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Place the pork in an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven and cover with the rendered fat. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 to 3 hours.
- 4. Remove the pork from the oven and cool to room temperature in the fat. If you simply can’t wait to eat this succulent bundle when it has finished its confit (we highly recommend chilling all confit, which intensifies the juicy tenderness of the meat), you can pour off and reserve the fat, then return the pan to the stovetop over high heat until the meat is nicely browned. If you have the stamina to wait, refrigerate the pork in the pan it was cooked in or transfer to another container and add the fat; the pork should be completely submerged in fat. Refrigerate until completely chilled, or for up to 2 months.
- 5. To serve, remove the pork from the refrigerator, preferably a few hours ahead. Remove the pork from the fat and wipe off the excess. In a deep, heavy pot, heat the oil for deep-frying to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Deep-fry the pork belly until crispy and heated through, about 2 minutes if it was at room temperature. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Note: Pink salt, a curing salt with nitrite, is called by different names and sold under various brand names, such as tinted cure mix or T.C.M., DQ Curing Salt, and Insta Cure #1. The nitrite in curing salts does a few special things to meat: It changes the flavor, preserves the meat’s red color, prevents fats from developing rancid flavors, and prevents many bacteria from growing.
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Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit Recipe © 2005 Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. All rights reserved.