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Crispy Pork Belly with Lemon Aioli and Heirloom Tomatoes


September 17, 2013

Pork Belly Recipes: Crispy Pork Belly with Lemon Aioli and Heirloom Tomatoes

I am shamefully impatient. I want what I want, when I want it, and I’m loath to wait. Years of report cards, followed by years of performance reviews have echoed this. And yet, it would appear, not much progress has been made.

Crispy Pork Belly

Crispy Pork Belly Served on a Bed of Lemon Aioli with Heirloom Tomatoes

Take the other day, for instance. Friday afternoon and suddenly all I could think about was pork. Pork belly to be precise. If you’ve had it, you likely love it, craving that crisp, crackling outside that gives way to the buttery, tender inside. All my recipes for Pork belly take hours though, often requiring an overnight soak or at least an all day braise. There was no time for this. Something had to be done.

Turns out a four hour pork belly does exist, and let me tell you, it is good. So, so, good. Served on a bed of creamy, homemade lemon aioli with little more than perfect summer heirloom tomatoes and a simple salad of baby arugula tossed with olive oil and finished with salt and pepper, this is an easy, simple, sexy, and gourmet dinner, perfect for entertaining.

California Olive Ranch

If you’re never tried California Olive Ranch I highly recommend it…the Arbequina is my favorite for it’s bold, unapologetic, grassy taste.

The trick to this recipe, because there are so few ingredients is to use the very best you can find. Go to your local, organic butcher and request pork belly, skin off, bone out. It might not be on the board, but they likely have it and it’s shockingly affordable (often less than $4/lb). The olive oil and salt in this recipe are key. Ever since I did an olive oil tasting with California Olive Ranch I’ve been a total convert. Their 100% California grown olives produce some of the best oils I’ve tasted in years and they are remarkably affordable and accessible given the tremendous quality. The last of summer’s heirloom tomatoes can be found at your local farmers market or co-op and though they might seem wildly expensive, it is worth it for that unbeatable taste.

Make this dinner when Summer is coming to a close, but you aren’t yet quite ready to kiss it goodbye. You’ll be glad you did.

Seattle Space Needle at night

The end of summer nights in Seattle.

Pork Belly Recipes: Crispy Pork Belly with Lemon Aioli and Heirloom Tomatoes

  • 4 lbs pork belly, skin off, bone out
  • 1 TB kosher salt, best you can find
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed plus more for tossing the arugula (I used California Olive Ranch’s Arbequina, famous for its grassy flavor)
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Heirloom tomatoes, quartered (have fun with different colors)
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • Lemon aioli (recipe follows)
  1. Score the fatty side of the pork belly with a sharp knife, in a tight criss-cross pattern, being careful not to cut through to the meat.
  2. Rub the salt into the fat and set aside for thirty minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  4. Wipe the salt off with a paper towel and pat the pork belly dry.
  5. Drizzle a large glass baking dish with olive oil, set the pork belly in, fat side down, and drizzle oil over the pork belly rubbing in as necessary.
  6. Place in the oven on upper rack for 30 minutes to sear the pork until a light golden, crackling brown.
  7. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees, move to middle rack, and cook until fork tender. About 3 hours.
  8. When absolutely tender and nearly falling apart, remove from oven, increase temperature back to 500 degrees and flip over, so fatty side is up.
  9. Roast until skin is good and crispy about 10-15 minutes, or desired doneness.
  10. Remove from oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes, and cut into 2″ squares with a sharp knife
  11. To plate, take a generous spoonful of aioli, smear it along the plate, set the pork belly on top and add the heirloom tomatoes and arugula (lightly tossed in olive oil and finished with salt and pepper). Pairs beautifully with a dry prosecco.

Lemon Aioli for pairing with Pork Belly Recipes:Crispy Pork Belly with Heirloom Tomatoes
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

  • 2 Raw extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Roasted Whole Garlic
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Oil for this which is milder in flavor than the Arbequina)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons Chopped thyme
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  1. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the egg yolks, mustard, and roasted garlic and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine.
  2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until it a thick, creamy emulsion forms. Add the lemon zest and thyme and pulse to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. My mouth is watering. I love pork belly and this recipe is so approachable and enticing!! THe lemon aioli is a nice touch.

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      You’re so right Katherine…I think Pork Belly is the kind of thing that a lot of people are afraid about trying to cook…but it’s so forgiving. And delicious!

  2. Perfect end of tomato season recipe – I want this for breakfast!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Alyssa…we had leftovers and I added it to scrambled eggs with a great Vermont cheddar and some arugula. Delicious!

  3. I love pork belly! And you’re right that so many recipes take awhile to cook. This looks so terrific – thanks!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      The speed factor might have been one of my favorite parts, John. And yet none of that tenderness and melt-in-your-mouth flavor that you normally get with braising was lost!

  4. Heirlooms! Yep, the only way to go 🙂 Wow I’ve never tried making crispy pork belly, which is practically a sin for someone with Taiwanese parents. Working with meat has always intimidated me, and pork belly just seems like the king of it all!

  5. Hubby loves pork belly. He ate a lot on his long travels in china. This looks awesome and maybe I will surprise him with it!

  6. Hannah says:

    I am SO delighted to have spent time with you over the weekend! I hope to see you again soon. Loved your olive oil tasting panel at IFBC. Arbequina was my favorite pick, too! xoxo

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Was so nice to look out and see your smiling face! Now we just all have to dramatically increase our olive oil intake to catch up with the Greeks!

  7. we love the slight chewy-ness of pork belly and this crisp rendition with aioli is mouth watering 🙂

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Thank you Kumar! This was definitely one of those dishes where the whole was great than the sum of its parts. So good!

  8. gahhhh I’m like, fawning over the thought of pork belly now! It’s one of my favorite types of meat even though I don’t talk about it often. I grew up eating it because of my Korean background (have you tried it that way btw? It’s just grilled) but this takes it to a whole new level. Lemon aioli sounds amazing!!!!

  9. Wow – this looks like it came from a fancy restaurant. It’s really pretty and i bet it was really tasty, too!
    P.S. I am also very impatient 🙂

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