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In a similar style to the question on preparing risotto in restaurants..

When cooking belly pork, to a texture that's soft, tender and still moist, long cook times at a low temperature (around 150 degrees celsius for 3 to 4 hours) are generally required, yet when ordering it in a restaurant it obviously doesn't take that long to arrive at the table!

My question therefore is, what tricks or techniques do restaurant chefs use to serve belly pork on demand. Can it be cooled and re-heated later, or is there another "trick" that's used?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

No trick. It's par-cooked, cooled, and held cold until service. Then when it's on order, you finish the cooking. That is true for most long-cooked dishes.

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But, is it cooked unti the skin has "crackled", or is that done as part of re-heating/finishing? –  Rob Jul 25 '10 at 19:22
    
As Roux stated, same would go for osso buco or anything that needs long braising. Par-cooking is employed for many things including relatively quick-cooking items. For instance in a banquet scenario the steaks are "marked" on the grill (day before or earlier in the day) and then finished in the oven for service. –  Darin Sehnert Jul 25 '10 at 19:24
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Pork belly will be cooked until it's tender and done. The "crackling" and browning on the exterior that you'll see is done at service time. Typically reheated and then placed in a salamander (overhead broiler) to crisp and brown the exterior. You could do the same with your broiler at home. –  Darin Sehnert Jul 25 '10 at 19:26
    
@roux, I'm looking for a bit more detail than this to make this a truly good answer. Could you be a bit more specific about the "how" of finishing the cooking, perhaps? Possibly some suggestions on how it would be best cooled/stored as well? =) –  Rob Jul 29 '10 at 8:42
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Okay. We don't currently have a pork belly on the menu--not very summery. But when we did, we would do exactly what Darin said. Braise the belly (I'm sorry, I can't remember offhand what the braising liquid was; I know there was veal stock, Guinness, hard cider, can't remember what else). The liquid would be drained off, reduced, reserved for service. Belly would be portioned and chilled. For service it would be warmed gently in the oven, then blasted under the sally to crisp the outside. Served with reduction etc etc. –  daniel Jul 29 '10 at 18:24

Along with the braised suggestions in another answer. Another way of pre-cooking pork belly employed by some restaurants is to confit it in lard in a similar way to how you confit duck.

This requires a couple of days notice to prepare as you need to give it an overnight cure and then after the confit process let it cool and set in the fat but once done it will keep for quite a long time and when needed can be quickly fried to crisp up and reheat (using some of it's stored in lard as the fat to fry with).

This method provides a more unctious and rich pork belly but as you can imagine is even more calorific than braised pork belly.

This site has a recipe for confit pork belly that to top off the unhealthiness finishes the meat by crisping it in a deep fat fryer. I have yet to try it but I imagine it is amazing!

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Heart attack central! Will have to try this out.. –  nunu Oct 12 '10 at 9:59
    
Read "Modernist Cuisine", this has been proved probably false –  TFD May 19 at 21:47
    
Proved what probably false? –  Preston Fitzgerald May 27 at 7:46

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