Learn how to prepare and cook pork belly slices or strips. Discover our simple recipes for cooking pork belly slices in various ways – in the oven, on the grill, in the frying pan, or even the air fryer. These methods are all straightforward and quick, resulting in incredibly hearty and delicious tender meat!
What Are Pork Belly Strips?
Pork belly strips are fatty, boneless cuts of meat that come from the pig’s underside. This part remains after removing the loin and ribs. These slices of meat are similar to bacon, but they are fresh and typically still have the skin on. Bacon, on the other hand, is skinned, thinly sliced, cured, and smoked. Italian pancetta is similar to pork belly strips but is sliced, cured, and not smoked.
Where Can You Buy Pork Belly?
Most larger grocery stores now sell pork belly. However, for the best quality, it’s recommended to visit your local butcher. Keep in mind that depending on your location, you may need to order the meat in advance, as it might not be regularly available.
How to Choose the Best Cuts?
When selecting pork belly slices, look for an even ratio of fat to meat. It’s ideal to have slightly more meat than fat. The fat adds incredible richness and flavor to the meat, but too much can be overwhelming. If you can’t find pre-sliced pork belly, you can purchase a whole slab and cut it into slices yourself, provided you have a large sharp knife.
How to Store Pork Belly Slices?
If the slices are vacuum-packed, the used-by date will be written on the package. When stored well-wrapped in plastic foil or in an airtight container, they can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. However, always ensure that the meat looks and smells fresh before cooking if you keep it for that long. Pork belly can also be frozen, whether it’s the whole piece or already cut strips, and it will keep well for up to six months.
Cooking Methods for Pork Belly Slices
How to Cook Pork Belly Slices in the Oven?
My go-to method for cooking pork belly slices is in the oven. It’s a hands-free approach that requires seasoning the meat and placing it in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Dry the pork slices with a paper towel if needed, then season them on both sides.
- Arrange the strips on the tray and bake until they become crispy and golden brown, flipping them halfway through.
- Roasting typically takes between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat.
How to Pan-Fry Pork Belly Slices?
Pan-frying is another excellent method for cooking pork belly slices. It’s important not to add additional fat since this fatty cut will render a lot of fat during cooking, and adding more will result in excessive splattering.
- Heat a large skillet or frying pan (a cast-iron skillet works great).
- Place the pork strips in the pan without adding any fat. Cook and continuously flip the slices until they become golden brown and crispy on both sides. Use tongs to handle the slices.
- Cooking typically takes around 5-7 minutes per side.
- Before serving, check the internal temperature to ensure that the meat is properly cooked.
Tips: If there is excessive splattering, consider using a splatter screen or wearing long kitchen mittens or sleeves to protect your skin. If you wish to drizzle the meat with sauce before removing it from the pan, discard the rendered fat first, or the dish will be excessively fatty. You can add the sauce during the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time. Lower the temperature, flip the slices frequently, and coat them thoroughly.
How to Air Fry Pork Belly?
The air fryer is a convenient alternative for cooking pork belly slices. Follow these steps:
- Preheat the air fryer if necessary. Each model may have different preheating requirements.
- Arrange the well-seasoned meat in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
- Cook at 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, flipping the slices twice in between. Adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of the slices.
- If desired, glaze the pieces with your favorite BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce before serving.
How to Grill Pork Belly Strips?
Grilling is a popular method for cooking pork belly slices when you prefer thinner slices, which are typically around ¼ – ½ inch (6-12 mm) thick. Here’s how to do it:
- Rub the meat with your favorite dry rub at least 30 minutes before cooking, allowing it to come to room temperature.
- Optionally, marinate the meat in your favorite marinade for 3 to 12 hours. When grilling, let any excess marinade drip off.
- Heat the grill.
- Grill the slices until slightly charred but not burnt; this usually takes around 2 minutes per side, depending on the slice’s thickness.
- Slather the slices with your favorite BBQ sauce and let them grill for another minute or two.
You can also use a grill pan to cook the sliced pork belly in the same way.
Safe Internal Temperature for Pork Belly
The cooking time for pork belly always depends on its thickness. While the length of the strips isn’t significant, their thickness matters. To ensure the meat is properly cooked, it’s essential to check the internal temperature. Pork needs to be cooked through, and the recommended temperature is 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A good meat thermometer is recommended for accurate readings.
How to Check the Temperature?
Insert the thermometer’s tip into the meat, ensuring it stops in the middle without going all the way through. This method works best with thicker slices. For thin slices, the best way to check if the meat is cooked is to cut one in the middle; it will be apparent if it’s properly cooked or not.
When cooking meat, it’s best to let the cuts reach room temperature before cooking. In the case of pork belly slices, approximately 20-30 minutes should be enough. Additionally, it’s a matter of personal preference whether you remove the pork skin or leave it on. Some people enjoy the crispy crackling, while others prefer to remove it.
How to Serve Pork Belly Strips?
Pork belly slices are best served immediately while still hot. Due to their richness, it’s recommended to serve them in small portions. For example, 750 g/ 1.7 lb will serve 6 people as a main course or 10 people as a starter. Here are some serving suggestions:
- As an appetizer, glaze the slices with BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce. Serve them as they are on top of a fresh salad or cut them into smaller pieces and arrange them on a platter with pickles, fresh fruit, or vegetables.
- As an entrée, serve the slices with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Rich Truffle Mashed Potatoes, and pickles or coleslaw. You can also serve them with any other type of potatoes or rice dishes like BBQ Rice or Nigerian Jollof Rice. Cauliflower and Potato Mash is shown in the pictures above as an example.
- For a low-carb meal, pair the slices with roasted vegetables, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, vegetable salads, or a green salad with yogurt dressing.
More Pork Recipes
For more delicious pork recipes, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.