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Pork Belly Confit

Cubes of pork belly confit on a white serving platter.
Thomas Keller

Prep 45 mins
Cook 1 d 15 hrs 15 mins
Total 1 d 16 hrs
Entrees
American
4 to 6 servings

Equipment

  • Deep-fry or candy thermometer

Ingredients 

For the brine

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves crushed, papery skin left on
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 8 cups water

For the confit

  • 1 batch pork brine
  • One slab pork belly
  • About 6 cups lard at room temperature

For the assembly

  • Canola oil
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions 

Make the brine

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Heat for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt, then remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  • Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the pork. Add the pork, cover, and refrigerate for 10 hours (but no longer as the pork may become salty).

Make the confit

  • Remove the pork from the brine, discarding the liquid. Rinse the pork under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels or let it air dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Reach for an ovenproof pot that's only slightly larger than the porkand has a lid, such as a 12-quart Dutch oven. Place the pork in the pot and add enough lard to cover it by 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pot.
  • Place the pot over low heat until the lard registers 190°F (87°C). This could take as long as an hour. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and heat until the pork is meltingly tender. This will probably take 5 1/2 to 6 hours, but start checking after 4 hours.
  • Remove the pot from the oven and let the pork cool to room temperature. The pork can be refrigerated as-is, enveloped by lard in the pot, for up to 1 week. (We prefer to first gently press the confit to compress the internal layers and force out some of the excess fat. This results in a better texture and appearance. To press the confit, transfer it to a baking dish and pour just enough lard into the dish to barely cover it. Cover the belly loosely with plastic wrap, place a smaller baking dish on top of it and weight it with a brick, a large can, a cast-iron skillet, or something of similar weight. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Cover and refrigerate the reserved lard. After it’s been pressed, the pork can be covered with some of the reserved lard and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Serve the confit

  • Remove the pot from the refrigerator and let it sit in a warm spot for 1 to 3 hours. You want the lard to soften enough so you can scrape it from the pork, yet you want the pork to remain as cold as possible so it will be relatively easy to slice.
  • Remove the pork from the pot and wipe off any lard that clings to the meat. (The lard can be reused to confit additional pork as long as it doesn't taste too salty. To reserve the lard, pour it into a pot and heat gently to liquefy, then strain through a fine-mesh conical strainer into a storage container. Refrigerate for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months.)
  • Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the pork. Score the fat on the pork belly in a crosshatch pattern. Slice the pork or cut it into squares (actually, the belly can be cut into any shape) and let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Heat some canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Carefully place the pieces of confited pork, fat-side-down, in the skillet, being careful not to crowd the pan and also being careful of spatters. (You may need to work in batches.) Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the excess fat is rendered and the fatty side is browned, 8 to 18 minutes, depending on the exact temperature of your oil. You may need to pour off any excess fat about halfway through cooking. When the pork is browned, transfer the skillet to the oven until the belly is heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the salt, and serve.

Notes

What Exactly Is Pork Belly?

Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig and is considered a delicacy in many cultures. In Ameria, bacon and salt pork (which is used often in soups, stews, and chowders) are the most common ingredients made from pork belly. In Italy, it’s made into pancetta. In Alsace, it’s part of choucroute garnie, and in many Latin countries it’s deep-fried and served as chicharrón–called torresmos in Portugal.