Pork Belly and Grits

Courtesy of Chef Jason LaIacona of Saffire Restaurant
July 26, 2015


For the Pork Belly

Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels then score the fatty top with a knife by slicinglong “x”s. Rub the meat down with the seasoning mix and molasses. Smoke it overmoderate heat for about 6 hours. For an added boost in flavor, smoke the whole head of garlic with the pork belly.

Place the diced vegetables in a deep roasting pan that is oven-safe and cover with the orange juice. Place the smoked pork belly and the smoked garlic head on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 300F for 3-4hrs until tender. Allow to rest in the juices for about an hour

When the pork belly has cooled slightly, move it to a sheet tray and cool overnight in the fridge. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Now it is time to trim and portion the pork belly. Move it to a cutting board and slice the edges so they are uniform. Portion the pork belly into 3” squares for a sit down course, for a cocktail party or canapé cut them into 1” cubes. (Reserve all scraps as they make for a nice breakfast) About an hour before your guests arrive, sear the pork belly portions fat side down until dark golden and crisp. Do this in batches. Set your oven on low. Keep the pieces warm in an oven-safe pan with some reserved cooking liquid. The liquid shouldn’t cover them completely.

For the Cider Vinegar Sauce

Reduce the remaining liquid down to a glossy thickness and spike with a few drops of apple cider vinegar until the flavor is as sharp as you like. Whisk in optional butter.

For the Sweet Corn Grits

Clean corn and slice the kernels off the cob. Purée in a blender with 1 cup of milk.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining milk to just under a boil, and steadily pour in grits while stirring vigorously. Reduce heat down to a simmer. Stir regularly and monitor heat as to not scorch the bottom. Continue to cook until grits have absorbed most of the liquid and taste creamy, there should be a minimum amount of bite left in the grits. If the grits have absorbed too much liquid too quickly without cooking all the way, simply add more milk until they are cooked to the proper doneness. At this point, stir in butter and corn purée. Taste, then adjust seasoning with salt.

To serve: Ladle a spoonful onto a small plate. Top with pork belly portion. Drizzle with sauce.

Makes 8-10 servings

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Pork Belly
  • 3-5lb portion on raw, skinless pork belly; make sure that the cut is on the meatier side
  • 1/2 cup black strap molasses
  • 1/4 cup seasoning mix (Cajun or blackening-style blend)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup carrots, large dice
  • 1 cup celery, large dice
  • 2 cups sweet onions, large dice
  • 2 quarts orange juice
Cider Vinegar Sauce
  • Remaining cooking liquid
  • Apple cider vinegar, as needed (1-3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, optional
Sweet Corn Grits
  • 3 ears of corn
  • 6 cups of milk, divided
  • 1 cup grits
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • Salt, to taste
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