I suspect that this is common: Often when I’m grocery shopping I zone out and go on autopilot. Flowers, apples, spinach, Muenster, and at the meat counter, hot Italian sausages (for pasta sauce), chicken thighs (for soup), and skirt steak (for salad). Last week, as I waited daydreaming for assistance, I took a closer look at the wares on display. And, boy, am I glad I did. At my Whole Foods I found beautiful pork belly, something I’ve never seen un-cured or -cooked before. Despite having no idea how to prepare it, I didn’t hesitate.
I quickly found there is a blogger who has cooked her way through the Momofuku cookbook, so I followed her direction. I put a little crosshatch on the fatty side, covered the whole thing in salt and pepper, and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day, I roasted it low and slow in my toaster oven–nearly three hours at 250 degrees. For the last ten minutes, I turned up the heat to 400 degrees. I let the belly rest before slicing and served it wrapped in lettuce leaves with creme fraiche, cucumber, sriracha, and a mild kimchi. It was awesome. Notes for next time: a little less salt in the dry brine and a bigger piece of belly, thanks very much.
This exercise was so much fun I think I’m going to dismantle my autopilot and try to make something new each week this year.