Braised Pork Belly Tacos with Watermelon, Jicama & Jalapeño Salsa

By • July 26, 2011 63 Comments

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Author Notes: I created the recipe myself, it is available on my site:
I was inspired by the combination of pork belly/watermelon in a salad at Memphis Taproom, a Philly restaurant I love, and ran with the idea.
The fatty cut of pork belly, soaked in the sweet brine and braising liquid, is paired almost perfectly with the fresh watermelon and jicama. The jalapeño adds the perfect amount of heat to this recipe. - a la Alison
a la Alison

Food52 Review: In a world of taco overload (is such a thing possible?), a la Alison has come up with a unique perspective. We'll admit we were dubious about the allspice -- 3 whole tablespoons of it. But it turns out pork belly takes to the warm, sweet spice like a moth to a flame, and the zippy watermelon, jicama and jalapeno salsa is the perfect cool complement. The pork emerges from the braising liquid burnished and melting, both spicy and a little sweet (there is minced chili in the braise as well). The crunchy salsa builds on the heat (and the sweet) and provides a great textural contrast. And there's nothing wrong with forgoing the tortillas as we started to do at one point -- just spoon some of the salsa over the pork belly, and dig in. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 3-4 people

For the Pork Belly

  • 2 pounds Cut of Pork Belly
  • 5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons whole pepper corn
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons allspice
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño, without seeds
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Tortillas, small
  • Salt & Pepper

For the Salsa

  • 3 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • Juice from 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 cup peeled, diced jicama
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons seeded, minced jalapeño
  • 1/2 large red onion, peeled/minced
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Start by rinsing the pork and patting it dry.
  2. Create the brine: Add the water, honey, bay leaves, 1/2 cup salt, and pepper corns to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
  3. Place the pork in a bowl and add the brine. Refrigerate for 6-7 hours, any more and the pork will become too salty.
  4. Remove the pork from brine and pat completely dry. Allow to sit in room temperature for 30 minutes before braising.
  5. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Start by cutting the pork belly into strips roughly 1" wide, this yielded about ten strips for me. Season the strips with all spice, salt & pepper.
  6. Place a dutch oven stovetop over medium heat. Once the oven is hot, place the strips fat side down.
  7. Thoroughly brown the pork belly for 10-15 minutes, should have a wonderful golden color to them. Flip and sear the other side for under a minute.
  8. Remove the pork to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off the fat, except for roughly 2 tbsp.
  9. Add the shallot, jalapeno and garlic to the pot and saute in the remaining pork fat for 5 minutes.
  10. Return the pork to the pot and add the juice and stock. Bring to a slight simmer, place a lid on the pot and move to the oven. The pork will cook for roughly 3 hours.
  11. Create the salsa: Mix all the salsa ingredients together in a bowl while pork is cooking, this will allow the flavors to mix thoroughly before serving.
  12. Remove the pork belly from the oven. Place a strip of pork belly with the salsa on the tortilla.

More Great Recipes: Watermelon|Salsa|Tacos|Pork|Entrees

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Comments (63) Questions (5)


almost 2 years ago E Weiss

Excellent taste, satisfying textures, beautiful on the plate, addicting! I accidentally brined for 14 hours and it was not too salty. Perhaps this is because my pork belly was extremely fatty. Wound up with lots of salsa left over - not a problem just an observation. Because I mistakenly caked on the spices, the strips appeared burned after searing. I strained all the fat and burned bits from the dutch oven, for fear that deglazing would lead to an overwhelming burned taste, and put back only clear fat - success. After braising, I let the meat fall apart, removed excess fat, and served without tortillas. Served three happily (again, ultra fatty). This recipe is a keeper. Now I only need to find a decent pork belly source!


about 2 years ago Sarah D

This recipe was awesome! I made the brine the night before, put the pork in the brine before I left for work, and then just seared it and put in the oven for three hours. Did all the cutting and prep work for the salsa the night before, too, so it wasn't too much work in the kitchen. This recipe is delicious, and definitely a keeper!!


over 2 years ago juliunruly

These were FANTASTIC. will make again and again. I split the work up ... did a brine the night before, took them out at 6am, put it in to braise at 9am, and had it all for lunch with a crowd. Huge, huge hit.


about 3 years ago Head2Tail

We had these tonight for supper and they were great! I love the combination of ingredients and apparently so did our two year old twins. They plowed through the tacos like there was no tomorrow. Then again, with pork belly and watermelon, who wouldn't love it? Thanks for the great meal!


about 4 years ago Ms. T

Congratulations--this sounds amazing! I've often enjoyed pork belly dishes in restaurants, but have not yet been brave enough to try it at home. Now I have a reason to give it a go :)


about 4 years ago a la Alison

Thank you!


about 4 years ago dymnyno

As soon as my doctor adds pork belly to my food chart, I am going to try this!


about 4 years ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Congrats! How exciting for you!


about 4 years ago cookinginvictoria

Congrats, a la Allison! This is such a creative and yummy-sounding recipe. Glad to see that it will be published in cookbook #2. I have saved and look forward to trying your recipe very soon.


about 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats! Your tacos look so pretty -- and clearly they are just as delicious. Saving them to try soon!


about 4 years ago Bevi

Congrats on your win! This look scrumptious and I can't wait to make them.


about 4 years ago arielleclementine

Congratulations on your win! Terrific recipe :)


about 4 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.



about 4 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations! A great addition to the cookbook (and love the salsa you created).


about 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats! This is such a unique recipe! And that salsa is awesome for so many things!


about 4 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on your winning recipe!


about 4 years ago a la Alison

So excited! Thanks for the votes everyone! I am so lucky.


about 4 years ago PhillyRuth3215

Congratulations!!!! This is one of the yummist tacos I have ever had. Just came from a $1 taco lunch and Drinkers, and man, they could learn a thing or two from you.



about 4 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations! great recipe and a wonderful addition to cookbook 2!


about 4 years ago alaltomari2

Congraulations on winning---