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|Pork|Stews|Entrees|Tacos

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