Paleo Maple Pork Belly, An Appetizer © 2016 . All rights reserved.

Paleo Maple Pork Belly, An Appetizer

This recipe for Paleo Maple Pork Belly is made by marinating the pork in a mixture of maple syrup, pineapple juice, fresh ginger and chili oil, then cooking the fat out of it over very hot cast iron. It’s one of my favorite appetizers to make for dinner parties because you can prepare 80% of it in advance, then just cook it and assemble it the day of. You can even marinate the pork and freeze it in a vacuum seal bag (like a Foodsaver), then de-thaw it and make it whenever you want. Always nice to be able to make some things in advance! Note: that this recipe is not for those hoping to lose weight or diet. It is a very fatty cut of meat and there is nothing in the world that will change that. So, word to the wise, if you’re having company and they are faint at fat, this may not be your go-to. Otherwise, the presentation is great and you can serve with toothpicks or mini forks for single serving.

Well, a lot has happened in the last month. I got to go to Jacksonville to spend the last few days of work with my team and it was so nice to say goodbye in person. I know the last couple of months were leading up to this, but I still can’t believe I don’t work for McKesson anymore…9 years is a long time! So now, I am officially unemployed, and I’m going to put all of my efforts into Paleo Effect until I find the right fit for whatever comes next. I’m excited about it, but also nervous. I had a really amazing team in Jacksonville, one which will be difficult to match. It’s strange to be jobless. You’d imagine that it would be nice to have the “free tiem”, but in reality, I feel like no matter how much I work on other things, I’m never doing enough. I wish I could enjoy it more, but I just can’t. I’m a planner. I like to make sure that everything is taken care of…its definitely one of the reasons that I was so good at my last job, but its also definitely a down-side to trying to find the next great fit. I’m so impatient, but unwilling to just get something for the sake of working. These are the moments in life where challenging yourself becomes uncomfortable and I keep telling myself to be strong so I don’t cave and just get the next thing…I know if I work hard at trying to find it, it will be worth it!

Paleo Maple Pork Belly

2 lbs Pork Belly*

2” knob fresh Ginger

½ cup Pineapple Juice

1/3 cup Coconut Aminos

1 ½ tsp Chili Oil

¼ cup Maple Syrup

¼ cup Coconut Crystals

1 ½ tsp Coconut Vinegar

1 tsp Paleo Adobo Seasoning

½ tsp Black Pepper

1 Garlic clove

2 Tbsp Bacon fat

2 Hass Avocados

Paleo Pickled Red Onions

*Make sure to get pork belly that is nitrite and nitrate free.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

We like to get our pork belly strips cut at ½” thick, in chunks about 2-3” in length. As the pork cooks, it will decrease in size, as this is a very fatty cut and a lot of that will cook out.

Combine the pork belly, ginger (we roughly cut this into slices after peeling, so I can remove it later), pineapple juice, coconut aminos, chili oil, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, coconut crystals, coconut vinegar, Paleo Adobo Seasoning, black pepper, and garlic clove (I smash it, again, so I can remove it later) in a large ziplock bag. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, or like I stated above, you can vacuum seal it and freeze it for whenever you like. The pork belly does well in the freezer if need be.

Place a cast iron pan in the oven and let it get hot. You need to do this, trust me on it. If you need further reinforcements, check out this article on How To Care and Cook in Cast Iron.

Add the bacon fat {pork fat works nicely as well} to the cast iron and let it heat up until very hot and liquid.

Add the pork belly in a single layer and bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, or until the bottom side of the pork belly is browned.

While the pork belly is baking, make the Paleo Pickled Red Onions and slice the avocados.

When the bottom side of the pork belly is browned, flip them, add the marinade, and bake, uncovered for another 12 minutes, or until the pork belly is browned and the majority of the fat has cooked out.

Plate immediately and top with additional 2 tablespoons maple syrup {optional}, Paleo Pickled Red Onions, and avocado slices.

Prep time: 24 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4-6