Friday, January 29, 2010

Top Chef Pork Belly

Yesterday I did another podcast interview with Angela from Kick Back and Kook and her guest chef: Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef! I was hooked on Top Chef this past season and Kevin was by far my favorite contestant and I truly believe he should have won. I mean, who can pass up uncomplicated comfort food, the big red beard (click here to become a fan on facebook) and the sweet, non-drama demeanor?

Kevin is not only a reality TV star, but he is one of the owners of Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, GA. I’m not sure if or when I’ll ever be in Atlanta, but if I make it there, Woodfire Grill will be at the top of my list of places to visit. And after listening to him over the phone, I have to stay I’m still a big fan and a bit star struck!

Angela and I both made Kevin’s recipe for Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Pickled Apples and Peanut Butter and then spent an hour talking with Kevin about it yesterday (well, to be honest, I only answered about 3 questions and maybe totaled 30 seconds of speaking time :)

Kevin said he only shares recipes with home cooks when he knows it’s actually realistic for them to recreate the recipe in their own kitchen without extravagant kitchen tools or exotic ingredients. I ordered the pork belly from Fischer Meats in Issaquah and the rest was easy! Colleen, Read and Boden volunteered to be guinea pigs. They brought Brussels sprouts with truffle salt (delicious!) and we also make some pasta as a back up so we wouldn’t starve in case my pork belly wasn’t Top Chef quality.

Boden helping Colleen cook

It was actually a really simple recipe and turned out great … although as the saying goes, I’m not sure it was “to die for” … which can be taken pretty literally since I don’t know any Cardiologists who’d recommend consuming pork belly. But it was definitely different and very fun to try.

Kevin said he loves to pickle things, so he stared with the pickled apples and then developed the rest of the recipe to compliment the apples. The peanut butter touch was inspired by Thai flavor combinations. And if you watched Top Chef, you know that Kevin loves cooking pork (he even made a bacon dessert in one of the final rounds). Here's the recipe with my notes.

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Pickled Apples and Peanut Butter
Kevin Gillespie

1 whole pork belly, skin off (about 5 - 10 lb.)
5 Fugi apples
3 cups cider vinegar
1 tsp. pickling spices
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanuts, roasted and cooled
Grilled peanut oil
Peanut Oil
Black Pepper

Peel, core and dice apples into a medium dice (next time I'd cut them really small).

Combine vinegar, sugar, spices, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Cool until just warm to the touch. Add apples and allow to cool, under refrigeration for 6 hours.

Season pork belly with salt and pepper. Wrap in a double layer of foil and cook at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature without opening package. (We used a 2 lb. piece of a pork belly, but still cooked it for 2 1/2 hours.)

Add peanuts and enough peanut and grilled peanut oil to blender to make a puree. Season. (I skipped this and just used Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter).

Slice pork belly into pieces and grill until warm through and carmelized on the outside. Place on top of a pool of peanut butter and top with pickled apples. (We each did just a smear of peanut butter and next time I'd just barely paint a little bit on the plate. A little goes a long way.)

Boden is the only 8 month old baby I know who has tried pork belly!


  1. Boden's now pretty much throwing the vegetable and turkey, jar baby food back at me..."pork belly or nothing mamma!"

  2. I was a huge fan of Kevin this year as well and was hoping so much he would win. This definitely looks and sounds like a recipe worth trying. Yum!

  3. Interesting--I've enjoyed pork belly out a number of times but had felt intimidated about cooking it. Sounds interesting with the pickled apples.

  4. How awesome is this? I love it! He was my favorite too. I love simple food, made well. I find all that fancy foam stuff to be over the top. What a great experience for you! I have to admit, I don't know about pickled apples and peanut butter, but I do understand the thai influence... hmm. Great post!

  5. Thanks for posting this. We just ordered a 10 lb. pork belly and are planning on making it into 3 meals for our family. I wanted to try Kevin's recipe and also the Novelli Academy recipe. My husband is a chef and although Kevin was my favorite to win this season, I was pretty disgusted that he did not have to wear a beard guard.

  6. What could be better than Pork Belly? I know...Pork Belly Tacos.

    Here I did a slow braised Pork Belly Taco with a toppings bar including a Cilantro Lime Crema.

    Pretty stinking good.