Kalua pork usually involves roasting a small hog in an underground oven (which, naturally, you build yourself). This recipe, however, is a slight twist on the Hawaiian classic and calls only for an oven to braise the pork belly.
To learn more, read "The Best Lei'd Plans."
Kalua Pork Belly
Recipe adapted from Chris Kajioka, Senia, Honolulu, HI
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes, plus overnight marinating time
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours and 35 minutes, plus overnight marinating time
For the Dark Chicken Stock:
3 pounds chicken wings
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, quartered
1 cup chopped carrot (1 medium carrot)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
4 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
For the Marinade:
1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup mirin
1¼ cups soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
12 pieces whole star anise pods
¼ cup sliced ginger
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
10 cups dark chicken stock
8 pounds skin-on pork belly
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
½ cup thinly sliced scallion
1. Make the dark chicken stock: Preheat the oven to 425° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chicken wings onto the baking sheet and roast until the skin is blistered and dark brown, 1 to 1½ hours.
2. While chicken is roasting, brown your vegetables: In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften and brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the roasted chicken wings and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until you have 10 cups, about 1 hour.
3. Prepare a large ice bath. Strain your stock, discarding the meat and vegetables, and chill in a large bowl set over the prepared ice bath.
4. Marinate the pork belly: In a large pot over medium heat, combine all the marinade ingredients except for the dark chicken stock and pork belly. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the liquid into the chilled dark chicken stock. Transfer the pork belly to a large, deep baking dish, then add the marinade. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
5. Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and preheat the oven to 350°. Cover the baking dish with foil and braise until the pork belly is tender, 4½ to 5 hours. (Note: Do not turn off the oven.) Transfer the pork belly to a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan and skim the excess fat. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, reducing the liquid until you have 3 cups of glaze, 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Using a pastry brush, lacquer the pork belly with glaze and return it to the oven, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board and slice it into 2-inch strips and then slice ½-inch pieces. Arrange the pork belly slices on a tray and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
7. Make ahead: The pork belly and glaze can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and keep them separate in the refrigerator. Let the pork come to room temperature, then glaze and roast at 350° until the pork is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with the seeds and scallions, and serve.