I have tried cooking "Butta no kakuni" or slow braised pork belly. I watched a video on making kakuni from a check in Nagasaki. In it he used a Le Creuset dutch oven to cook the pork belly.
- Cut the pork belly into 4 inch strips, cut those in to 4"x4"
- lightly brown the cubes
- add a large scallion, star anise, and a stick of cinnamon
- cover with water add salt
- after cooking - remove the water
- add mirin, sake, soy, sugar and cook on low until well reduced.
It was cooked in a dutch oven - brought to a boil in the first phase, then simmered for 1 hour. The second phase was simmered for 3 hours. It's soft, but not super soft like I had in Japan, where it is like eating butter with a very luxurious and buttery caramelized consistency. I have to admit, I did not use a thermometer to check the meat's temperature through various stages
My question is: how does one keep the pork from becoming tough and how does one cook meat in general in a way that it stays soft, allows flavor to thoroughly permeate but stays whole without flaking and breaking too easily when plating.
I am not a pro, but I am passionate about this!