Pork belly is the cheapest yet the most rewarding cut one can think of. It's fun to eat and fun to make -- it loves sweet, it loves spices, it loves booze, the possibilities are endless. This is one of my favorite dishes for holiday parties, it can be prepared ahead of time, and finished just before serving. It does take some special efforts though -- you will need to guard the fridge so that hubby does not snatch the Guinness before it makes its way into the dish, and you will have to guard the glaze so that the guests do not dip into it before it makes its way onto the pork, but the hard work will be rewarded with beautiful, succulent, most tender pork imaginable. I like to serve it with shaved Brussels sprouts salad or fennel slaw. —QueenSashy
pork belly, without skin (try to get a nice, thick and even cut)
Score the fatty side of the pork belly in a crisscross pattern, without cutting into the meat. Rub the meat generously with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200F-225F. In a bowl, mix the Guinness, honey, agave syrup, bay leaves and orange zest.
In a large Dutch oven or casserole, over medium to high heat, heat the oil until very hot. Add the pork belly and sear until it is nicely browned on both sides. Remove the casserole from the heat and discard the fat. Poor in the Guinness mixture around the meat. Make sure that the fatty side of the meat is facing up. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid, transfer to the oven and roast for about 7-8 hours, until meat is very tender, but not falling apart. Remove the casserole from the oven. Gently lift the pork belly, transfer to a platter and let it cool completely, at least 2 hours.
Skim all the fat from the roasting liquid. Pour the liquid back into the casserole and bring to boil over high heat. Simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until it is reduced to thick syrup. (The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools, if it becomes too thick, you can always add a little bit of water.)
Preheat the broiler. Cut the cold pork belly into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Glaze the cubes with the Guinness syrup on all sides (you may have some syrup left). Arrange on a baking sheet and place under the broiler (but not too close, about 6 inches from the broiler). Broil for about 5 or so minutes to crisp.
Using slotted spoon, transfer the pork belly to plates. Squeeze a couple of drops of orange juice on top (and if you like some more of the Guinness syrup) and a little bit of fresh pepper. Serve with a slice of orange on the side.
Note: This dish can easily be made a day ahead up to the last step. (As a matter of fact, that is what I do most of the time.) Roast the belly on Day 1 and store it in the fridge. Store the liquid separately. On Day 2 skim the fat from the liquid, make the syrup and then finish the pork belly under the broiler.)
Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.