I have been playing around with pork bellies for a while now and have tried a lot of different preperations. I made some pancetta a while back and it turned out pretty good. I was reading through Michael Ruhlmans book on charcuterie and found a recipe for lardo. The recipe said that if you can't find back fat that you can use pork belly so I bought a great piece of belly from Prairie Pride and set to curing the meat. The whole process took about a month and a half, you have to leave the belly in the cure mixture for about 2 weeks then once the belly is firm you need to rinse the belly then dry it and hang it in a cool darkplace for around a month. When I hang meat I usually wrap it in cheese cloth and hang it in our utility closet where it is nice and cool.
After the pork belly is done and ready to use you can do any number of things with it. The belly can be eaten just as is or heat up under the broiler. I had to eat a few pieces right away and it was fantastic. The texture of the fat is amazingly creamy and it erupts in your mouth like a pork flavored Gusher. The strands of meat in the fat add a beautiful color and flavor.
The first thing I had to make with this belly was a BLT (belly, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. I took a couple pieces of crusty wheat bread and placed a few pieces of the pork on one half and some smoked gouda on the other half and placed them under the broiler until the fat was translucent. Then I added a fried egg, lettuce and tomato, and a few drop of sriracha. It was a fantastic sandwich.
I am really looking forward to finding some different ways to use this pork. I was thinking about making faggots (insert chuckle) and wrapping the meat with thin slices of pork belly instead of caul fat. I will let you know if that works out.