Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: September 15, 2023

As an eight-year carnivore diet enthusiast, I've tried myriad pork belly recipes. My journey led me to a favorite - pork belly tacos.

After perfecting it over time, I'm eager to share this scrumptious recipe that achieves that sought-after crispy yet tender texture when eating pork belly tacos.

Crispy Pork Belly Taco Recipe

Crispy Pork Belly Tacos

Recipe Overview

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Pork Belly:

  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Dry Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the Tacos:

  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced or diced red onion
  • Lime wedges
  • 1 cup salsa verde (store-bought or homemade)

Instructions

Crispy Pork Belly Tacos
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to make the dry rub.
  3. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Score the fat side of the pork belly with a sharp knife in a crosshatch pattern. This will help render the fat and create a crispy texture.
  4. In the small bowl, rub the dry rub mixture all over the pork belly, ensuring it is evenly coated to season.
  5. Heat a large oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork belly, fat side down, and drizzle olive oil over both sides. Sear for 5 minutes until the fat begins to render and turns golden brown. Flip the pork belly with tongs and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Let the meat cool briefly, then transfer the pan with the pork belly to the preheated oven. Roast for 3 hours until the pork belly is tender and the fat crisps.
  7. While you wait for the pork belly to cook, warm the corn tortillas in a dry skillet or in the middle of a flame until pliable. Wrap the tortillas in foil to keep them warm while cooking the meat.
  8. Remove the pork belly from the oven, tent with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice it into thin strips.
  9. In a large bowl, toss red onion, cabbage, and chopped cilantro with squeezed lime wedges to lightly coat.
  10. Place a few slices of pork belly on each tortilla to assemble the taco. Garnish the taco with the shredded cabbage, crumbled cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, and diced red onion from the large bowl.
  11. Serve the pork belly tacos with salsa on the side and lime wedges for squeezing over the tacos. Salt to taste.

Recipe Notes

Crispy Pork Belly Tacos
  • Pork belly can be found at your local market or butcher. If unavailable, you can use pork shoulder as a substitute when making pork belly tacos.
  • For extra flavor, season the meat in the dry rub overnight in the refrigerator before preparing.
  • You can cook on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet instead of in the pan. I recommend placing an aluminum foil-coated wire rack on the baking sheet to hold the pork.
  • Make sure to remove the skin from the meat before preparing, as it can become tough and chewy.
  • You can adjust the spice level by adding more or less chili powder to the dry rub. You can also top it with jalapeno peppers for added heat.
  • Feel free to customize the toppings based on your preferences. Additional options include sliced red pepper, pickled onions, or your favorite hot sauce.
  • You can braise the meat in a slow cooker for 6-7 hours instead of roasting it in the oven for a super tender result.
  • Each slice of pork belly should cook to an internal temperature of at least 145°F before serving [1]. Use a meat thermometer to check.
  • Don't discard the rendered fat from the pork belly - use it when cooking the sliced red onions to add more taste.
  • For crispier pork belly, broil the strips on high for 2-3 minutes after you cook them.
  • Leftover cooked pork belly can be stored in the freezer for 2-3 months [2].
  • Add chopped jalapeño pepper to the cabbage mixture if you prefer a spicier taco.
  • To make the salsa, blend fresh cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a food processor until smooth. For an unusual twist, sprinkle with a little brown sugar.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 570
  • Total Carbs: 30g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Fat: 43g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Net Carbs: 24g

"Pork belly is the ultimate indulgence. It's rich, fatty, and has layers of flavor that melt in your mouth."

- David Chang, American Chef

Also Read: Taco Bake Casserole Recipe

What to Serve With Pork Belly Tacos

Mexican Rice

Here are some dishes and sides that would pair well with pork belly tacos:

  1. Mexican Rice: The savory flavors of Mexican rice work perfectly with the rich and flavorful pork. The rice provides a neutral base and helps balance out the richness of the meat.
  2. Refried Beans: Creamy and comforting refried beans add a satisfying texture and earthy flavor to the meal. They enhance the overall heartiness of the dish and provide a protein-packed element.
  3. Grilled Corn on the Cob: Grilled corn on the cob brings a smoky and slightly sweet taste that pairs well with the crispy pork belly. The juicy kernels and charred flavors add a delightful contrast to the main dish.
  4. Roasted Salsa: A roasted salsa, such as salsa roja or salsa de arbol, adds a smoky and slightly spicy kick to the tacos. The salsa's vibrant flavors complement the pork belly's richness and provide a burst of freshness.
  5. Avocado Slices or Guacamole: Creamy avocado slices or guacamole add a smooth buttery texture to the main course. The mild and cooling nature of avocados helps balance out the bold flavors of the pork.
  6. Pickled Red Onions: Tangy and slightly sweet pickled red onions provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the meat. Their bright flavor and crunchy texture add a zesty element to each bite.
  7. Mexican Street Corn Salad: This vibrant and flavorful salad combines grilled corn, cotija cheese, lime juice, salt, and spices. It brings a refreshing and tangy element to the meal, complementing the pork.

Also Read: How to Cook Sliced Pork Belly

FAQs

Should I Boil Pork Belly First?

No, you should not boil pork belly first. Boiling can cause the meat to become overcooked and lose its natural juices. Instead, it is recommended to slow roast or braise pork belly to develop tenderness and taste.

Do You Need To Rinse Pork Belly Before Preparing?

No, you do not need to rinse pork belly before preparing. Rinsing the meat can spread bacteria around the sink and kitchen. Instead, it is recommended to pat the pork dry with paper towels before seasoning and preparing it.

Can You Cook Pork Belly for Too Long?

Yes, you can cook pork belly for too long. Cooked too long, the meat becomes dry and tough. Following the recommended recipe times and temperatures ensures the meat reaches the desired level of tenderness without becoming overdone.

Have You Tried This Pork Belly Tacos Recipe?

Preparing pork belly tacos may initially seem intimidating.

But with the right techniques and ingredients, anyone can achieve incredible, crisped results that are best served family-style.

If you are looking for a source of high-quality meat for your culinary creations, check out our review of the best meat delivery services.

We've done the research so you don't have to, and we'll help you find the best meat delivery service to suit your needs.


References:

  1. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2022/10/03/cooking-meat-it-done-yet
  2. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-long-can-you-freeze-pork
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