What Is Pork Belly Called At The Grocery Store? A Full Guide

Are you a fan of bacon?

If so, you may be surprised to learn that it all starts with pork belly.

This fatty, boneless cut of meat comes from the belly of the pig and is a versatile ingredient in many cuisines.

But what is pork belly called at the grocery store?

It can be sold either whole or sliced, and it’s important to know the difference between pork belly and bacon before you start cooking.

In this article, we’ll explore the unique qualities of pork belly and how to use it in your favorite recipes.

So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

What Is Pork Belly Called At The Grocery Store?

Pork belly can be found at the grocery store under a few different names. It may simply be labeled as “pork belly,” or it could be sold as “fresh side” or “side pork.”

It’s important to note that pork belly is not the same as bacon. While bacon can be derived from the belly of the pig, it is cured and smoked, whereas pork belly is not.

When purchasing pork belly at the grocery store, you may have the option to buy it whole or sliced. If you’re new to cooking with pork belly, we recommend buying it whole so you can decide how thick you’d like to slice it.

What Is Pork Belly?

Pork belly is a delicious and versatile cut of meat that comes from the underside of a domestic pig. It is known for its high fat content, which makes it tender and flavorful. The cut is boneless and fatty, with a thick layer of fat running along the top and smaller layers of fat marbled throughout.

While pork belly is most famous for being the main ingredient in bacon, it is also used in a variety of other dishes in Asian, Hispanic, and Northern European cuisines. It can be grilled, fried, braised, roasted, and used interchangeably with any recipe that calls for pork.

It’s important to note that pork belly is not the same as bacon. Bacon is cured and smoked pork belly that has been sliced thinly. Pork belly, on the other hand, is sold either whole or sliced and has not been cured or smoked.

When purchasing pork belly, it’s important to keep in mind that it typically has the skin still on it, which can be tough when cooked. Some butchers remove the skin, while others leave it on. Whether or not to remove the skin is a personal choice and can be debated among chefs and food enthusiasts.

The Difference Between Pork Belly And Bacon

While pork belly and bacon may come from the same area of the pig, they are actually quite different. The main difference between the two is how they are processed. Pork belly is typically sold unsmoked and uncured, while bacon undergoes a lengthy process of curing and smoking.

Another key difference is in their texture and flavor. Pork belly is known for its tenderness and richness, while bacon is often cooked until it’s crispy and has a smoky, salty flavor. Bacon is also typically sold in thin or thick slices with a variety of flavors available, while pork belly is usually sold as a whole slab with the skin still on.

When it comes to cooking, pork belly can be used interchangeably with any recipe that calls for pork. It can be grilled, fried, braised, roasted, or even smoked like barbecue. However, it’s important to note that if pork belly isn’t cooked properly, the fat content can render and turn rubbery.

Bacon, on the other hand, is most commonly fried or baked until it’s crispy. It’s also used as an ingredient in many recipes to add flavor and texture. However, due to its high levels of sodium and nitrites from the curing process, it’s often considered less healthy than pork belly.

How To Buy Pork Belly At The Grocery Store

If you’re looking to buy pork belly at the grocery store, there are a few things to consider. First, it’s important to understand that not all grocery stores carry pork belly. If you can’t find it on the shelves, ask the butcher if they have any in the back or if they can order it for you.

It’s also a good idea to inspect the pork belly before purchasing it, to ensure that you’re buying a cut with plenty of meat. If you have a local butcher shop or ethnic store nearby, they may be more likely to carry pork belly and offer a wider selection.

If you’re unable to find pork belly at your local grocery store or butcher shop, consider looking online at meat purveyors such as Snake River Farms or Williams-Sonoma. However, keep in mind that prices may be higher when purchasing online.

Another option is to contact a food distribution warehouse such as Sysco and see if they can sell you a case of pork belly. This may require some planning, as a case typically contains four bellies.

How To Prepare Pork Belly For Cooking

Preparing pork belly for cooking is an essential step to ensure that your dish turns out delicious and flavorful. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Score the pork belly: Using a very sharp knife, score the pork belly skin in a crosshatch pattern. This process helps the fat run out and the skin to crisp.

2. Season the meat: Liberally season the meat with salt, pepper, or other seasonings to add flavor.

3. Dry the skin: If time permits, it is highly recommended that you leave the pork belly uncovered on a plate overnight in the fridge to let the skin dry out. This is the biggest insurance for excellent crackling quality.

4. Oil and season flesh: Set the belly flesh-side up, drizzle it with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fennel powder, and rub it to distribute, including the sides.

5. Wrap flesh with foil: Flip the belly over so that the skin side is up. Use two sheets of foil to make a little open box enclosing the belly tightly while leaving the skin exposed. Fold the sides, pinch and seal the corners to encase it as snugly as you can while ensuring it won’t leak.

6. Sprinkle salt evenly across skin: Rub the skin lightly with just one teaspoon of oil. Then sprinkle salt evenly across the whole surface from edge to edge. This is essential to ensure you get a nice, bubbly, and crispy crackling rather than a rock-hard flat sheet of impenetrable skin.

7. Cook in oven or smoker: Depending on your recipe, cook your pork belly in an oven or smoker at a slow and gentle heat to tenderize the meat, plus a shorter blast at a higher heat to crisp up the skin.

8. Rest before carving: Once cooked (the pork should be tender; this can be easily tested by piercing the flesh with a knife), remove it from the oven or smoker and leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

By following these steps, you can prepare pork belly for cooking in a way that will result in a delicious and flavorful dish that will impress your guests!

Delicious Pork Belly Recipes To Try At Home

If you’re looking for some delicious pork belly recipes to try at home, look no further! Here are some mouth-watering options that are sure to impress your taste buds:

1. Pork Belly Bites Over Jalapeno Slaw – This succulent pork belly dish is packed with flavor and is sure to satisfy your cravings. The pork is slow-roasted in chicken stock and flavored with a combination of salt, pepper, brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, grapeseed oil, and sesame oil. To cut through the richness of the pork belly, there’s a sweet and spicy jalapeno slaw with a dressing of brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil.

2. Sticky Chinese Barbecue Pork Belly – This popular Chinese dish is famous for its delectable sauce and glaze, which make it mouth-wateringly good. Impress your family and friends with this Char Siu recipe.

3. Crispy Skin Pork Belly – If you’re a fan of crispy pork belly, this recipe is for you. With a sharp knife, score through the skin every 1/2-inch at a diagonal and season with salt, sugar, and black pepper. Roast in the oven until tender but not mushy, then refrigerate until chilled through. Once chilled, slice into thick pieces and brown in a skillet on the stovetop until crisp. Enjoy alone or in soups, salads, pasta sauces, ramen and more!

4. Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites – The air fryer is a great way to make crispy pork belly any time of the year. Simply season the pork belly with spices, toss into the air fryer, and voila! You’ve got tasty protein for any meal.

5. Pan-Fried Pork Belly Slices – For a quick and easy recipe that still packs a punch of flavor, try pan-fried pork belly slices. Simply slice the pork belly into small cube-like pieces and fry in a large pan on high heat until crispy and browned. Remove from the pan and enjoy as a snack or add to your favorite dishes.

No matter which recipe you choose to try at home, pork belly is sure to add a deliciously rich flavor to any meal. So next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up some fresh side or side pork and get cooking!

Conclusion: The Versatility Of Pork Belly In Cooking

Pork belly is a versatile cut of meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. Its rich, fatty texture makes it perfect for roasting, braising, and grilling. One popular dish is Korean BBQ pork belly, which involves marinating the pork belly in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and other seasonings before grilling or pan-frying. Pork belly can also be used to make bacon, which is a beloved breakfast food and can be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes.

When cooking with pork belly, it’s important to note that the fat is what gives it its signature flavor and texture. Don’t be afraid to embrace the fat and look for cuts that have a good amount of it. Scoring the fat before cooking helps the rendered fat escape during cooking and allows the seasonings and rubs to penetrate the meat, giving the pork belly more flavor.

In addition to being delicious, pork belly is also packed with nutrients. It is a good source of protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. When shopping for pork belly at the grocery store, look for cuts that are fresh and have a good amount of fat.