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How to Sous Vide Pork Belly

That are few things more decadently delicious than a slab of perfectly cooked and unctuous pork belly. This BBQ staple is best enjoyed smoked or braised for hours over a low heat to better break down the tough proteins and properly render the fat. One lesser-known method of cooking (and enjoying) this fatty cut is the sous vide method. Cooking pork belly using the low and slow sous vide cooking method results in tender, succulent meat that still retains a pleasant amount of firmness.

Follow this simple guide to prepare perfectly moist and tender sous vide pork belly every time.

TemperatureTimeResult
165˚F*10 hoursTender and juicy
175°F7-10 hoursSlightly firm, still juicy
*Please note that some of these temperatures are lower than what the FDA recommends. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.

 Pork belly slices are very fatty and take a long time to render and break down into a pleasant texture. To get the right texture you will need to cook the pork belly for at least 10 hours using an immersion circulator.

Ingredients and Tools

  • 5-10 Pork belly slices (at least 1 inch thick)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Marinade (optional)

Equipment

  • Immersion circulator
  • A large pot
  • Vacuum sealer and bags or freezer safe sealable plastic bags

Directions

Pre-heat your water bath to the desired temperature

Pat the pork steaks dry with some paper towels and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.

Optional Step: At this point you can choose to coat your pork belly slices in a marinade. This is step is optional however pork belly tends to be a bit bland on its own so we do recommend it. We used a store-bought jerk marinade to give the pork belly a sweet and spicy kick.

Place pork chops in a plastic bag and vacuum-seal. Follow our guide if you are using the water displacement method

Once the cook is finished, remove the pork from the water bath and remove from the bag and pat dry with a paper towel.

Finishing

Now that you’ve successfully cooked the pork belly to perfection we recommend broiling, searing, or grilling it over high heat before serving.

Skillet

Heat 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. You’ll want to use an oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable, peanut, or avocado oil. Carefully place the pork in the hot pan being careful to avoid any splashing oil. Cook each side for around 2 minutes.  

Remove the pork from the pan and leave to rest for about 2 minutes before serving.

Grill

If it’s nice out and the grill is ready to go, you can also throw the pork belly slices onto the fire for a few minutes.

Preheat your grill and simply cook the chops over direct heat for about 2 minutes each side. Turn the pork every 20 seconds or so.

Broil

Probably the simplest method and the one we recommend in most cases is broiling. Simply lay the pork belly slices on a rack in a roasting pan and broil as close to the heating element as possible over high heat for a few minutes on each side. Keep a close eye on the pork belly slices as they can burn quickly.

Recipes to try

Momofuku Pork Belly Buns

Hot Honey Pork Belly with Creamy Cheddar Grits

Kakuni

Chashu Pork with Braised Lotus Root

FAQs

Are the cooking temperatures safe?

Our recommended cooking temperatures for Sous vide and Suvie are lower than what the USDA recommends, however, cooking times and temperatures are long enough and high enough for “pasteurization” to make your food safe. The USDA recommendations indicate the temperature needed to instantly kill food pathogens. By cooking for a longer time at a lower temperature we are able to achieve the same effect. However, high-risk populations should use extra caution when preparing foods below the USDA recommended temperatures.

Can I use any type of plastic bag?

You can, however, make sure that they are made from polyethylene. Some branded plastic bags are made using polyethylene which is a BPA and dioxin free plastic that can safely handle sous vide cooking temperatures up to 190°F. Some generic branded plastic bags are made using cheaper polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which cannot handle high temps and contains chemicals that can leach into food. 

Where can I get vacuum sealed proteins?

If you don’t want to fuss with vacuum sealers and ziplock bags you can skip the store and order the Suvie Protein Box. Just put together your ideal combination of preseasoned, portioned, and vacuum-packed high-quality meat, poultry, or fish. We deliver it to you frozen in a carefully-packed box.

Can I use frozen pork belly slices?

Yes! This technique will work with frozen pork. If you’re cooking straight from the freezer just add an additional hour to the sous vide time. 

Can I refrigerate the pork after the sous vide process and sear it later

For food safety reasons, we recommend consuming your pork soon after cooking.

Do I need to brine the pork before cooking?

Pork often benefits from a salt brine before cooking. This step can help add extra flavor to your pork. If you have time to salt an hour before cooking, go for it! Otherwise, seasoning well before vacuum sealing will have a similar effect to brining.

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