Franco and Tom’s Award-Winning Stuffed Pork Belly

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Credit: The Pork Cookbook by Bruce Aidells
The National Culinary Review, November 2003


1 bunch Swiss chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
11/2 cups diced onion
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground pork
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, soaked in
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons currants, soaked in hot water until soft, about 15 minutes (optional)
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes until golden
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch of nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pork belly with skin on (about 5 pounds)


Method: Strip leaves from stems of chard. Cut stems crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and leaves into 1-inch strips and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chard stems to skillet and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in chard leaves, garlic, and red chili flakes. Toss and cook until chard is wilted and any liquid
that’s been released from chard has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Put chard mixture in a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool. Add ground pork. Squeeze breadcrumbs to remove extra moisture and add to bowl with chard, pork, and egg. Drain (optional) currants and add them to mixture along with toasted pine nuts, rosemary, nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Stir until stuffing mixture is well combined. Prepare pork belly for stuffing by cutting a pocket in meat, about 1/2-inch down from skin and leaving a 1-inch border around three closed sides. Using a very sharp knife or box cutter, score skin in diagonal lines in both directions, about 3/4-inch apart and cutting no more than about 1/4-inch deep, being careful not to cut too deeply into fat. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Firmly pack stuffing into pocket, leaving pocket open. Don’t worry if some of the stuffing falls out of opening. Put stuffed pork belly on a rack in a roasting pan, sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place in preheated oven for approximately 21/2 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork (or cut a sliver and taste it). When pork is done, if the skin is not golden and crackling crisp, increase the heat to 450° F and continue to roast for another 20 minutes. Remove pork belly from oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes or up to 45 minutes before cutting into 3/4-inch slices. Consider serving the pork belly alongside mashed potatoes or soft polenta, sautéed chard, spinach, or other greens. Leftover pork belly can be sliced and then served at room temperature or reheated for 15 minutes in a 350° F oven.


6 to 8 servings


Main Dish, Pork, The National Culinary Review

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