Slow Cooker

Braised Pork Belly Tacos with Watermelon, Jicama & Jalapeño Salsa

July 26, 2011
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 3-4 people
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bhilz
  • juliunruly
  • Ms. T
    Ms. T
  • a la Alison
    a la Alison
  • dymnyno
I am a blogger, amateur chef and food enthusiast. Cooking for those I love is the most natural and rewarding way to spend my time.

63 Reviews

Rita January 20, 2023
Excellent recipe. Melt in your mouth pork. Mine was cooked and very tender after 1.5 hours.
bhilz August 23, 2017
Made this in the Instant Pot and it came out marvelously. I actually used pork shoulder and quadrupled the recipe to feed a crowd. After brining, I seared the meat in batches inside the IP, then put it all back with the rest of the braising ingredients and cooked on the Manual setting for 60 min. I made this ahead and ended up sauteing the finished pork the next day to reheat, which made for a delicious, carnitas-like texture. Next time I'll make sure to reduce the remaining liquid into a sauce, since it's so delicious. The meat was plenty juicy without it though!
bhilz July 18, 2017
Found the link to this today in an article about watermelon recipes, and I can't wait to try it! Has anyone tried making the pork in an Instant Pot? If not, I might have to!
E W. September 5, 2013
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!
Sarah D. June 27, 2013
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!!
juliunruly February 16, 2013
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.
Head2Tail July 10, 2012
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!
Ms. T. August 15, 2011
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 :)
a L. August 11, 2011
Thank you!
dymnyno August 10, 2011
As soon as my doctor adds pork belly to my food chart, I am going to try this!
Brussels S. August 10, 2011
Congrats! How exciting for you!
cookinginvictoria August 10, 2011
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.
ChefJune August 10, 2011
Congrats! Your tacos look so pretty -- and clearly they are just as delicious. Saving them to try soon!
Bevi August 10, 2011
Congrats on your win! This look scrumptious and I can't wait to make them.
arielleclementine August 10, 2011
Congratulations on your win! Terrific recipe :)
sexyLAMBCHOPx August 10, 2011
BlueKaleRoad August 10, 2011
Congratulations! A great addition to the cookbook (and love the salsa you created).
fiveandspice August 10, 2011
Congrats! This is such a unique recipe! And that salsa is awesome for so many things!
Sagegreen August 10, 2011
Congrats on your winning recipe!
a L. August 10, 2011
So excited! Thanks for the votes everyone! I am so lucky.