My Itinerary:



Crispy Braised Pork Belly
Courtesy of Chef Ryan Swarthout of Robert’s Restaurant

Serves six

  • 1 pound slab fresh pork belly (unsmoked and uncured)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup Paso Robles Syrah wine
  • 4 cups beef stock, preferably home-made


  • 1 cup reserved pork-braising liquid
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 pinch red chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pat the belly dry with paper towels, and season both sides generously with salt and black pepper. Place a deep, straight-sided sauté pan large enough to hold the pork belly over medium-high heat and, when it is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Brown the slab of belly for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, turning once, to develop a nice golden brown crust. Remove pork belly and set aside. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the pan and sauté until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and simmer to reduce by half. Return the pork belly to the pan and add the beef stock. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Braise for 3 hours, until very tender.

Carefully transfer the pork belly to a cutting board, using a slotted spatula. Allow to cool while you strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids. Let the braising liquid settle in a large, heatproof jug, then skim off and discard any excess fat. Measure one cup of the braising liquid for sauce (reserve the remaining broth for another use, such as soup, if desired).  In a small saucepan, combine the 1 cup braising liquid with the soy sauce, brown sugar, chile flakes, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then simmer briskly until slightly reduced and thickened; remove from the heat.

When the pork belly is cool enough to handle, cut into 6 equal squares. Wipe out the original pan with a paper towel. Add and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, add 2 or 3 pieces of pork belly to the hot pan and sauté without moving for about 2 ½ minutes, until crisp. Gently turn over and crisp the other side. Transfer a piece of the crispy pork belly to each of six warm plates and spoon some of the sauce over the top. Serve at once.