Pork Belly Carnitas with Watermelon Salsa

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Pork Belly Carnitas with Watermelon Salsa

Pork Belly can be such a treat!!  This method is somewhat involved (but easy) — Brining first, then slow-braising.  But ultimately, so very rewarding.  The Pork Belly becomes melt-in-the-mouth candy!!  Very rich — Works well with contrasting components.  Tacos with lettuce and a very refreshing Watermelon Salsa.  Wonderful as topping for Quesadillas with Manchego Cheese and more Watermelon.  Adapted from Recipe at Food-52.

Ingredients / Prep:

For the Pork Belly:

2 pounds cut of Pork Belly
5 cups Water
3/4 cups Honey
2 tbsp. whole Peppercorn
6 Bay Leaves
1/2 cup Salt
3 tbsp. Allspice
1 med/large Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced Jalapeño, without seeds
2 cups Orange Juice
1 cup Chicken Stock
Tortillas, small

For the Salsa:

3 cups cubed, seedless Watermelon
Juice from 1-1/2 Limes
1 cup peeled, diced Jicama
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
2 tablespoons seeded, minced Jalapeño
1/2 large Red Onion, peeled/minced

Instructions / Assembly:

1. Start by rinsing the pork and patting it dry.

2. Create the Brine: Add the water, honey, bay leaves, 1/2 cup salt, and peppercorns to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Place the pork in a bowl and add the brine. Refrigerate for 6-7 hours, no more or the pork will become too salty. Remove the pork from brine and pat completely dry. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before braising.  Note — Can refrigerate (uncovered) for a few hours or overnight at this point.

3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Start by cutting the pork belly into strips roughly 1″ wide. Season the strips with allspice, salt & pepper (a light sprinkle).

4. Place a large pot (dutch oven) atop stove over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, place the strips fat side down. Thoroughly brown the pork belly for about 10 minutes, should have a wonderful golden color to them. Flip and sear the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the pork to a paper towel-lined plate. Spoon off a bit of the fat, except for roughly 2 tbsp.

5. Add the onion, jalapeno and garlic to the pot and saute in the remaining pork fat for 4-5 minutes. Return the pork to the pot and add the juice and stock. Bring to a slight simmer, place a lid on the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for for roughly 2-1/2 hours.

6. Create the Salsa: Mix all the salsa ingredients together in a bowl while pork is cooking, this will allow the flavors to mix thoroughly before serving.

7. Remove the pork belly from the oven. On a cutting board, cut the strips (very tender) into bite-size chunks.  Serve with on tortillas with the Salsa.