What Is Pork Belly?

Pork belly comes from the abdominal area of the pig. This richly flavored, fatty cut of pork has complex flavor and a texture that lends itself particularly well to slow cooking. This versatile cut of pork can be prepared in the oven, on the grill or on the stovetop.

Bon Appetit recommends buying pork belly from the local butcher. Select fresh, center-cut pork belly that is as lean as possible. Like bacon, pork belly contains three textures: thin skin, thick strips of fat, and streaks of meat. Bacon is pork belly that has been smoked and cured.

Slow cook pork belly by braising, slow-roasting or stewing it. These cooking methods increase the tenderness by breaking down the fat and collagen. To crisp it, Bon Appetit recommends allowing the slow-cooked pork belly to chill in the refrigerator, patting the outside dry, and cutting it into serving portions. Heat a skillet, frying pan, broiler or grill over high heat, and cook the pork belly until the outside is golden and crisp.

Alternatively, pork belly can be used to enrich leaner cuts of meat. For example, Saveur features a recipe for crispy roast pork that includes pork belly wrapped around a pork loin. Alternatively, pork belly can be ground to use by itself or with other meats for dumplings and sausages.