Recipe adapted from Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic Ribs
I hope you are not tired of pork belly, for a couple of reasons. First, this is the best version yet! (Yes, I say that every time.) The second reason is because I still have a few pounds of it in my freezer, so chances are you are going to see more of it.
While looking for a marinade for ribs, I came across what has to be the most highly praised recipe short of when the ancient Mesopotamians recorded the first recipe for beer, as handed down from the god Enki. Ian Knauer, a former food editor for Gourmet magazine, said “These ribs just might be the best thing I’ve ever come up with.” Food 52 proclaimed the recipe “Genius”. Ruth Reichl wrote about them in her journal after making them again and again. Review after review – serving these ribs made you the most popular person in the world. Well heck, I thought, if this is good enough for ribs, it should be heavenly on pork belly!
Looks heavenly, right? To use Ms. Reichl’s words – “Smokey, Sweet, Tangy, Sticky” – that’s all you have to know.
I halved the original recipe since I was marinating a small slab of pork belly vs 8 pounds of ribs. Also I substituted coconut palm sugar for the brown sugar, to decrease the glycemic load. We were smoking ribs, so the pork belly went in the Big Green Egg with the ribs. However, you can also roast it in the oven using these instructions from Jamie Oliver.
The last time we smoked a pork belly, we found that the skin was very tough and ended up cutting it off. This time I borrowed Jamie Oliver’s technique for crackling the skin before putting the belly in the smoker, which resulted in a crispier, edible rind.
- 1 slab of pork belly (1-3 pounds, or whatever you have)
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + 2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Rinse the pork belly and dry with paper towels. Using a very sharp knife, cut crosshatches just through the rind (skin). Place pork belly in a resealable bag.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with the 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir together in a small bowl with rosemary, sugar, vinegar, cayenne, remaining salt, and black pepper. Pour the marinade in the bag with the pork belly. Seal bag (squeezing the air out) and massage the marinade into the pork belly, coating it thoroughly. Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours (go for 24 hours if you can).
To prepare the glaze, bring the vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil (watching carefully) until the mixture is thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside.