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Pork Belly: The Hogging of America’s Dinner Plates
Prepare your taste buds with Groupon’s overview of one of gastronomy’s most versatile cuts of meat: pork belly.
Pork belly might have become increasingly visible on restaurant menus within the last several years, but most diners were familiar with it long before it became culinary vogue. After all, bacon is simply belly cured and then smoked to take on different flavors, and pancetta is the same cut cured, aged, and sometimes rolled. But when the words pork belly appear on a menu, generally they refer to a thick slab of uncured boneless belly meat, rich in fat and served diced or whole, often with the skin left on for crackly textural contrast.
Although they require patience to turn tender, the strata of fat and muscle are some of the most versatile cuts of pork at a chef’s disposal. Braising, stewing, or slow roasting renders the fat just below the skin and breaks down the collagen to make the originally tough meat ultra-tender. Chefs often seek out heirloom pig varieties such as duroc (known for its mild flavor and moderate meat-to-fat ratio) and berkshire (prized for its sweet meat and creamy, evenly distributed fat) to leverage certain traits specific to those breeds.