The pork belly confit recipe comes straight from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. The recipe takes a little bit of planning, but each step is straightforward and doesn’t require too much work. Then, you have 10 hours to know that you have a pork belly brining away in your fridge, and then even better, the next 5 hours knowing that you have pork belly slowly roasting in duck fat (or lard, whichever you choose). It’s all about the anticipation. The result is an extremely flavorful piece of pork. Since Thomas Keller’s recipe is well known, I will not recreate it here. I have the ingredients listed, but you can follow the detailed step-by-step process outlined with pictures on Eat It Atlanta here. I served the pork belly with sauteed leeks with lentils. The recipe follows.
A few notes:
You can leave the skin on or remove it. It is a bit tough when cooking the pork this way, so I preferred to remove it, and then I just seared the fat side well to make it crispy. If you leave the skin on, just slice your pork so it’s easier to eat. But it tastes delicious! I found the skin was very easy to remove right before searing the pork.
Make sure your pork is submerged in the brine by adding a weight (like a plate) on top, as well as when the pork is cooling in the fridge in the fat.
Pork Belly Confit, serves 6
2 lb slab of pork belly
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
3 large rosemary sprigs
1/2 bunch thyme (1/2 ounce)
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup garlic cloves, crushed, skin left on
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cup kosher salt
8 cups water
Lard or duck fat (enough to cover the pork, 4-6 cups)
Follow the recipe up to where the pork is cooling in the fridge. Do not sear the pork belly until the final stages.
Leeks and Lentils, serves 6
3/4 cup green lentils
5 extra large leeks, cleaned, most of dark green parts removed, sliced in half lengthwise, and then crosswise (about 10 cups chopped leeks)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
½ chile de arbol, seeds removed
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups chicken stock
Salt to taste (start with ½ tsp, then another ½ with lentils)
Add the lentils and 3 cups of water to a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through. Drain, and reserve. I used green lentils here, but different lentil varieties cook at different rates so just check cooking times if you are using a different kind.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep-sided pan. Add the rosemary sprig and the chile. When they start to sizzle, add the leeks, thyme, butter, and ½ tsp of salt. Stir the leeks for a few minutes, then add the chicken stock. Cook over medium heat for about half an hour, until the leeks are soft. Add lentils and season with more salt, and pepper.
While the leeks are cooking, remove the pork belly from the fat, and score the fat side. Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil over medium-high heat, and sear the pork belly, fat side down, about 5-7 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side, another 5-7 minutes. Slice the pork belly, and layer over a scoop of the leeks and lentils. Serve immediately.