This post is brought to you in partnership with Joule: Sous Vide by ChefSteps.
Cooking pork belly is something that can seem intimidating for the average home cook. It’s a very fatty piece of meat, and if you don’t cook it correctly it can end up with a texture that can be everything from chewy to almost gooey.
The traditional way to cook pork belly is to roast it for a long time to render out most of the fat and crisp up the skin, but I prefer cooking my pork belly sous vide to guarantee that it's cooked exactly the way I want it.
Sous Vide, Then Grill!
To make the belly a little easier to share and to capitalize on grilling season right now, I like to slice up the belly into thick planks, skewer them with a simple BBQ glaze, and grill them until they are crispy around the edges!
This is a great appetizer to make when you want something simple and easy since most of the cooking can happen while you are asleep – yes, I cook these overnight!
Pork Belly Cooking Temperature
Pork belly can be cooked sous vide at a range of cooking temperatures. If you want a more firm, steak-like texture to the pork belly, cook it at 158°F.
Personally, I like to I cook mine a little higher at 170°F, which renders out a bit more of the fat and gives you very tender, melt-in-your-mouth bites. There’s no hard and fast rule here, though!
Trimming and Slicing the Belly
Even after cooking, the pork belly will still have a lot of fat on it. Chill the pork belly fully (which makes it easier to slice), and then trim off any overhanging bits of fat and any parts where the belly is very thin. You want a rough rectangle of evenly thick pork belly.
You can use any leftover bits of cooked belly in your next batch of pasta carbonara or crisp them in a pan to serve with a salad!
One other note on trimming, which relates to the rind (or skin) on the pork belly. I always leave this on my pork belly. It helps hold the bites together and also gets crispy during grilling! It’s like a little chicharrón on top of your pork belly bite. Yum!
That said, if you don’t like the texture of the rind, you can trim it off, but just know that will make your bites very fragile and they might fall apart on the grill.
I found the right size for a good pork belly bite is about 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long. That’s a big enough piece that it won’t just fall apart on the grill, but not so big that it becomes more than a bite.
Grilling the Pork Belly
These pork belly bites can take a lot of heat, but you don’t want to cook them for too long on the grill or they tend to fall apart.
On a gas grill cranked up to high heat, they will only need about 2 to 3 minutes per side to develop a good sear. If you are using charcoal, 1 to 2 minutes per side over direct heat will do the trick.
Remember that the pork belly is perfectly cooked already! We are just reheating it, adding the glaze, and crisping it up!
When the bites come off the grill, sprinkle them with some sesame seeds and pass them out to friends while warm!
Have questions about sous vide cooking? Leave a comment below!
New to Sous Vide Cooking? Start Here!
- Everything You’ve Been Wondering About Sous Vide Cooking at Home
- How to Use Your New Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
- How to Seal Foods without Using a Vacuum Sealer
- Sous Vide and Food Safety: What to Know
More Sous Vide Recipes to Try!
Sous Vide Pork Belly Bites
For the pork belly:
1 pound pork belly
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha
Sesame seeds, for garnish
For the glaze:
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Begin heating the water:
Fill a pot with water and place your immersion circulator inside. Set the temperature to 158°F for steak-like bites or 170°F for very tender, melt-in-your-mouth bites, and let the water come up to temperature.
Combine the ingredients and seal the bag:
Add pork belly to a freezer safe gallon sized plastic bag along with slivered garlic, soy sauce, and sriracha.
Seal the bag with as little air as possible by using water-displacement method: Just slowly lower the bag with the pork belly into the water, letting the pressure of the water press the air out through the top of the bag. Once the top of the bag reaches the water line and all the air has been pressed out, seal the bag.
You can do this in the pot of water as it heats. (Just be careful if the water is already steaming!)
Set the pork belly aside on a kitchen towel until the water has finished heating.
Cook the pork belly sous vide:
Once the water has come to temperature, submerge the sealed bag of pork belly. Make sure the pork belly is completely submerged so the food cooks evenly
Cook for 12 hours. Cover the pot with foil or plastic wrap to slow evaporation and add more water if the water level becomes low. When cooking time ends, remove from the water and turn off the circulator.
Chill the pork belly:
This will take at least an hour in the fridge, though at this point the pork belly can also be refrigerated for up to three days before serving. It should be cooled completely and the fat should be congealed in the bag for easier trimming.
Trim the pork belly:
Remove the chilled pork belly from bag and trim off any over-hanging fatty pieces and thin pieces so you have a clean rectangle of pork belly that's evenly thick.
Slice the pork belly into bites:
Slice belly into strips about 1/2 inch thick, and then into bite-sized pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Skewer the pork belly bites through rind, going top to bottom, so the sides with the largest surface area will be in contact with the grill.
Heat the grill:
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. (About 500°F or until you can hold your hand 1 inch over the grates for 1 to 2 seconds.) Clean the grates of the grill very well and use tongs to rub them with an oil-soaked paper towel.
Meanwhile, mix glaze together in a bowl.
Make the glaze:
In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Grill the bites:
Lay the pork belly bites on the grill over direct heat and brush with glaze. Close the grill lid and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on a gas grill (1 to 2 minutes on charcoal), or until you see crispy seared marks on the underside.
Flip, brush with more glaze, and grill another 2 to 3 minutes (or 1 to 2 minutes on charcoal). Remove from the grill to a platter and brush lightly with more glaze.
Sprinkle the pork belly bites with sesame seeds and serve with toothpicks while warm.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 10g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||5%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|