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: http://www.alaalison.com.
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&MA&M

Serves 3-4 people

For the Pork Belly

  • 2 pounds Cut of Pork Belly
  • 5 cups water
  • 3/4 cups 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.
Jump to Comments (63)

Tags: delicious, seasonal, serves a crowd

Comments (63) Questions (4)

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about 1 year 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!

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about 1 year 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!!

Julistache

over 1 year 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.

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about 2 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!

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about 3 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 :)

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you!

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about 3 years ago dymnyno

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

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about 3 years ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Congrats! How exciting for you!

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about 3 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.

Junechamp

about 3 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!

Cakes

about 3 years ago Bevi

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

Henrykiss

about 3 years ago arielleclementine

Congratulations on your win! Terrific recipe :)

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about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Congrats!

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

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

Sausage2

about 3 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!

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on your winning recipe!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

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

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about 3 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.

-bp

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

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

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about 3 years ago alaltomari2

Congraulations on winning---

Dad-omari

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about 3 years ago rldirusso

looks really good, good luck ali!!

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about 3 years ago odaskal

Yum! Now if only it was Kosher!!! Good Luck

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks oron :)

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about 3 years ago master chef sass

I consider myself to be somewhat of a pork belly enthusiast. And you, ma'am, sure know how to braise yourself a pork belly.

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you Chef Sass!

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about 3 years ago Ggold

Good Luck!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks for the support G

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about 3 years ago Adriane

This is the best chile pepper recipe ever.

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Adriane, you're the best

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about 3 years ago michaeljobrienjr

Looks amazing. Can't wait to try!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks Michael! Great for a dinner party (with margaritas of course)

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations on being a finalist!!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you so much. Just checked out your blog, BlueKaleRoad, very excited to try some of your recipes!

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Thanks so much, Alison! I appreciate you stopping by. :)

Stringio

about 3 years ago lakelurelady

Your ingredients shine in this recipe. Congratulations!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you! very sweet of you to say

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about 3 years ago Alison Altomari

your the best!!!!!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations! These sound delicious.

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you!

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about 3 years ago gavindirusso

AMAZING! I, too, have tasted this and they are a winner!

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about 3 years ago gears

This looks amazing! definitely has my vote!

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about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Sending you pork belly congrats! Good luck!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks so much!

Henrykiss

about 3 years ago arielleclementine

congratulations!! these sound incredible!

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

Congrats, love all the flavors!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks so much!

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about 3 years ago jeffbgriln

They not only look awesome, but i was there to taste the awesomeness in person. Havent had one thing from a la that hasent been totally epic. keep up the solid cooking. call me anytime to test.

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks:)

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about 3 years ago Owen Jones

These tacos are delicious!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks Owen!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks! I am beyond happy to make it this far!

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats on being a finalist! This sounds spectacular!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks!

Cakes

about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats on being a finalist. This looks incredible.

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on being a finalist, this recipe recipe sounds so delicious!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks!

Lobster_001

about 3 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations on being a finalist!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thank you!

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats! I had a feeling about this recipe - so extraordinary and gorgeous to boot!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

You are so kind! Thanks for the support!

Burnt_offering

about 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Wow - first time out as a finalist! Congratulations!

Alaawesomesauce

about 3 years ago a la Alison

Thanks! I am so excited!!