Pork belly sandwiches

Pork belly sandwiches.jpg

From tacos, to pork belly extravaganzas, the sandwich is having a culinary moment. One of the juiciest, tastiest sandwiches I ever had was at Publican Quality Meats in Chicago, a real deli with a commitment to making the best charcuterie and artisan meat.

I convinced Kassie Rath, a butcher at the store, to share the pork belly recipe. Have the pork on hand for a quick sandwich supper or great lunch treat. It keeps for a week in its broth. The potato bread is my own quick-bread recipe with no yeast or rising time, perfect for a sandwich. Can’t be bothered? Use a ciabatta bun as a substitute.
Serves: 4 big eaters or 8 smaller ones


Pork marinade:

  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries, optional
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pork belly:

  • 2 kilograms (4 pounds) pork belly
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery stalk
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups beef, pork or chicken stock

Potato rolls:

  • 3 cups peeled and grated starchy potatoes, about 500 grams (1 poundlb)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup roasted garlic
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 egg, beaten

Coarse salt


  • 2 tablespoons tbsp chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Vegetable salsa or relish for spreading rolls


Pork belly:

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Combine all marinade ingredients, except for oil and brown sugar, in a blender. Blend while gradually adding in oil. Mix in brown sugar after mixture is smooth.

Cross-hatch pork belly skin every half inch. Heat a large casserole over high heat and sear pork belly to render out fat and brown, about 5 to 7 minutes a side. Remove from pan and rub or spoon the marinade over pork.

Turn heat down to medium and add vegetables and garlic to casserole. Sauté for 3 minutes and add white wine. Reduce wine by half then add stock. Place belly back into liquid and cover tightly with a lid.

Bake in oven for 2-1/2 hours or until pork is very tender. Cool in liquid. Remove pork and place on baking sheet. Chill liquid. Place smaller baking sheet on top. Place a weight over and let rest for 2 hours. Spoon fat off chilled liquid and return pork until needed.


Potato rolls:

Sprinkle grated potatoes with salt in a large bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain potatoes and gently squeeze to remove extra starch and liquid.

Combine grated potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Stir in flour, baking powder, milk, melted butter and rosemary. Turn out mixture onto a board and bring together, dough will be sticky. Knead for 3 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, up to ½1/2 cup.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven.

Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into 6-inch circles on a lightly floured board. Place rounds on buttered baking sheets and brush generously with beaten egg. Mark each roll into quarters with a cross and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cool on a rack before slicing. Makes 4 rolls.


To assemble sandwiches:

At the deli, they finish the sandwich with roasted broccoli salsa but any vegetable salsa or relish is good.

Slice pork belly into ½1/2-inch thick slices against the grain. Split rolls in half and cut in half horizontally. Fry pork belly in dry skillet over medium high heat until crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Mix together 2 tablespoons tbsp chopped mint with ½1/2 cup yogurt. Spread bottom halves of potato rolls with a salsa. Top each with pork belly, yogurt mixture and baby kale or watercress.



May I suggest a beer for this belly? India Pale Ale, a strongly bitter style, cleanses and invigorates the palate in the face of all that fatty pork. The herbal hop character also resonates with the vegetable salsa or relish. Look especially for a robust version from a microbrewery versus one of those wimpy big-brew IPAs. Alternatively, choose a red wine with strong acidity, such as bright, fruity Beaujolais from France or a crisp, earthy Chianti from Tuscany. And consider serving the wine in a plain tumbler rather than a fancy stem. This is blue-jean cuisine; dress the wine accordingly. - Beppi Crosariol