09 Sep2008


It sounded like a cruel joke. An oxymoron even. How could a pig’s belly be flattened? I had visions of porcine abdominals with rippled washboard perfection. Or maybe the pig had signed up for a course of treatments at Institut Santre (which keeps sending me discount fliers like they know I am in my mid-forties and flabby), and lost as much as 12 inches in one month, as their massive billboard near the South Superhighway claims… I jest, of course. But this was, in fact, a recipe called “Flattened Pork Belly,” and after watching Gordon Ramsay prepare it on his television show a couple of weeks ago, I knew I JUST HAD to try it, and in a word… SUPERB! This would be a terrific semi-fancy dinner dish as you do most of the work ahead of time. And trust me, some of your guests will be utterly amazed how you managed to slice the pork so precisely…


The crisp crackling on top was beautiful, and reminiscent of lechon skin, without all of the hassle of roasting a lechon. In fact, I suspect that if folks living in the West try this, it will become one of their favorite fancy party foods of all time… The flavorful and alternating layers of “melt in your mouth” meat and fat under the crisp skin was pork nirvana! Originally designed to be served with caramelized apples and mustardy potatoes, I served this with some of the natural gravy and rice and it was delicious. I decided to make this recipe using Gordon Ramsay’s original version, and as I always do when trying something new, I try to do it the way the author suggests. Only after that would I attempt my own variations. So just google “Gordon Ramsay’s pressed pork belly recipe” for specific details but I will describe in broad strokes how I did this.


Slice several bulbs of garlic horizontally and lay them at the bottom of the pan, cut sides facing skyward. Add a large bunch of thyme to the pan. Drizzle several tablespoons of olive oil on the garlic and herbs. Score and generously season a boneless pork belly with salt and pepper and lay it on top of the garlic and herbs. Add a cup or two of white wine and some chicken broth and stick it in an oven to cook, covered in foil for about 45-60 minutes. Check the pork every 30 minutes or so and baste with the pan juices, if the juices are drying up, add some chicken broth. After an hour of cooking, remove the foil and let the pork cook another 30 minutes or so until done.


Let the pork belly cool for some 20-30 minutes and transfer it to a flat pan or rectangular pyrex bowl, leaving the garlic and herbs in the roasting pan. Put another pan on TOP of the pork belly and weigh it down with heavy canned goods like cans of tomatoes or broth. When this has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and let this hang out in the fridge overnight, still being weighed down by cans. The purpose of the weight is to literally flatten the pork belly. The stint in the fridge will also solidify the fats…


The next day, take the cold pork out of the fridge and cut it with a sharp knife into square pieces representing one serving portion. I experimented with a small pork belly, so mostly I got irregular shapes and one incredibly nice cube of pork… just look at the layers of meat and fat! Bring this back to room temperature, heat up the oven to say 400 degrees, and bake this for about 20 minutes until warmed through, then stick it under the broiler to blister the skin. And I did the pin-prick trick here, by piercing the skin surface with a pin several dozen times per piece before sticking it under the broiler, and it worked like a charm…


Oh, to make the sauce, deglaze the roasting pan with a bit more wine and some chicken stock then mash the garlic and pass all of this through a sieve and season to your liking. Place a cooked cube of pork on a plate and ladle some of the sauce around the base of the plate. Snazzy, huh? But the texture and taste? Brilliant. The next time around I will try this with more asian/pinoy accents like soy, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, lemongrass, etc. A really upscale oven roasted lechon for the home enthusiast, complete with crisp skin!

Note: Ramsay’s recipe is actually called PRESSED PORK BELLY, not FLATTENED… :)



  1. ragamuffin girl says:

    i usually make Jamie Oliver’s roast pork belly at home, the skin scored and the meat rubbed with fennel seeds, salt , pepper and whatever herb I have on hand. THen I let this sit on a pan with garlic cloves and more herbs, a swish of olive oil… bake till skin blisters and meat is fork tender. It’s the “gourmet” lechon kawali. I’m thinking next time chill it then slice into several extremely thin slices (like Chinese braised thousand layer pork) and serve on a bed of veggies or potatoes or poached fruit. The recipes are similar save for the “gravy” and the flattening. I like the idea of mustardy potatoes, too. Or maybe cayenne sprinkled sweet potatoes?

    I like your presentation, by the way. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    Sep 9, 2008 | 8:55 pm


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  3. sister says:

    Beats paying a couple of hundred bucks for a one inch square at Daniel…

    Sep 9, 2008 | 9:34 pm

  4. RoBStaR says:

    Hey MM,

    Question for you…in regards to pritchon. how did you get the skin very crispy in terms of heat wise.. did you start with high temp. and end slow or vice versa..i did another lechon but once again, my motor failed to turn and lo’ behold.. i had to butcher my lovely swine.. this time i had to removed the extremities.. atleast i have the head.. hahaha slowly but surely, i will roast a whole one. hahaha already buying a 50lb motor.
    i was able to roast it and still had some problems crisping the whole skin, i had portions but not overall. i pricked the pig using the meat tenderizer with a wooden jig to set the teeth to go in only about 3/16 inch into the skin.. bec. they were not needles but rather sharp thin lil blades… the prick method didnt come out as well.. if at all. i think i still have one more roast before it starts to get colder..and hope to resolve the skin crispy problems..

    attach is the setup… please excuse the mess…under strict limitations this is all i could muster.. but atleast it taste really well seasoned with portions of crispy skin. same method as before… coals parted on either side with drip pan… should i be bringin the coals underneath at the beginnning of the cooking process? then parting it after?
    ive attach a link to the new massacre..
    hope you can share some tips…thanks in advance.


    Sep 9, 2008 | 9:42 pm

  5. zena says:

    I think I’d rather do this than attempt frying my own lechon kawali. I’ve GOT to remember the needle pricks.

    Sep 9, 2008 | 9:44 pm

  6. Apicio says:

    Simply amazed at the way imaginative cooks can call attention to an otherwise simple dish by presenting it in a novel shape. You should see the ziggurats that inventive cooks in Soochow build out of an old favorite, twice cooked pork.

    Have been admiring the radial plate since the tuna carpaccio post. The rays draw your sight towards the center and focuses your attention to the entrée. With the encircling relief dots, the center appears even better than I have imagined.

    Haven’t watched the cooking channel in a long time. Is it true that profanities bloom when somebody crosses his path?

    Sep 9, 2008 | 10:09 pm

  7. pilar says:

    I did see this on Ramsay’s The F Word. Looks “ma-trabaho” but I think is definitely worth it.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 1:12 am

  8. paoix says:

    i am salivating. yum. i will give this a try

    Sep 10, 2008 | 2:31 am

  9. EbbaMyra says:

    I think in the province my relatives has been doing this since a while back, not only to flatten the pork but also to extract some of the fat off the meat. And my aunt said that when you do that, and bite into the pork, you don’t get the oil/fat oozing out of your mouth, it makes the meat crunchy she said.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 3:34 am

  10. sonia says:

    use and electric knife to cut neat squares of the lechon and you wont end up with a mangled carcass

    Sep 10, 2008 | 4:42 am

  11. millet says:

    yur plating is brilliant, MM! that first photo could have been creme brulee with a sprig of lavender on the side, but knowing it is lechon ups the mouthwatering factor even more!

    Sep 10, 2008 | 7:23 am

  12. joey says:

    This is my type of dish! I love pork belly and have always been frustrated by my inability to produce crackling. I’ll try that pin pricking tip! Will try this…thanks for sharing! :)

    Sep 10, 2008 | 8:34 am

  13. sister says:

    You might try getting a pastry docker with multiple sharp points to make regular pinpricks.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 8:39 am

  14. Lex says:

    This really looks great. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Pork is so versatile a meat and belly is pretty hard to beat. Since I am attempting to do this soon, did you bake at 350°F the first time?

    Sep 10, 2008 | 8:52 am

  15. Marketman says:

    sister, the chinese use a “steel brush” apparently… not sure if that is usually a hardware purchased implement…but I don’t think it is food specific… But the pin pricks seem to work well for small amounts of crackling. Joey, watch the sin under a broiler, it can burn quite fast. Make sure your skin is DRY before you bake the pork belly. Millet and Apicio, more on that plate soon. sonia, do you mean an electric knife on a whole traditional lechon? Pilar, there are several steps but they are very easy to do. Apicio, I don’t really like Ramsay’s television persona, and yes, the program is actually called “The F Word”, but some of his dishes are terrific. zena, yes, this is less messy and just as delicious as lechon kawali… Robstar… here are my suggestions for a crisp skin: dry the carcass out after killing the piggy if you are doing it yourself. Dry the skin with paper towels and consider scoring it or poking it with pins. Brush with olive oil or other oil before roasting. Consider a HOTTER fire for a crisp skin. You might want to try it with coals under the pig, but it might flare up in the set-up in your photograph… it doesn’t seem to flareup in the open pit I have with a sandy floor. I hope those tips help… ragamuffin, I have that book by Jamie Oliver with the pork belly recipe with fennel… I have been wanting to try it, but I think I will do an Italian style porchetta first!

    Sep 10, 2008 | 8:56 am

  16. Edwin D. says:

    Looks good and probably taste great too! I’ll try this recipe with the atchara very soon. This is making me hungry.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 9:01 am

  17. Marketman says:

    Lex, yes, 350F for the first part of the cooking.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 9:06 am

  18. ragamuffin girl says:

    Hi MM, I saw that steel brush on Chef in Black, when he was interviewing an eatery that served roast pork Chinese-style (those that hang on hooks with soy chicken, white chicken and cha siu). It was one mean implement! Have you been to Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei? They sell all kinds of kitchen gadgets there, with a lot of Chinese cuisine-specific ones, plus Japanese serving stuff, bamboo stuff (steamers, paddles, rice boats). If you haven’t I can take you there next time you plan a HK trip.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 10:16 am

  19. chunky says:

    snazzy and brilliant it is! way to go! (i don’t mean it the bad way)…

    Sep 10, 2008 | 10:27 am

  20. Fatcat says:

    hi, I saw this in AFC in one of Ramsay’s mentoring shows, I think you did a good version of it as well…

    Sep 10, 2008 | 11:22 am

  21. zofhia says:

    looks very fancy and delicious… too bad i don’t eat pork anymore.. but maybe i’ll try to make this and give it to my brother who loves pork..

    by the way, pin pricking is very smart. i used to overcook my lechon kawali just to get the skin to puff beautifully..

    Sep 10, 2008 | 11:34 am

  22. linda says:

    Wow,MM!You’ve done it again! That plate gives your presentation that “wow” factor and Apicio summed it up well.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 1:31 pm

  23. Mandy says:

    looks really good. i saw that show too months ago. trinny? susana? heehee.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 1:34 pm

  24. APM says:

    Hi Marketman,

    You should also check out Marco Pierre White’s Great British Feast. He made a very similar pork belly dish. Its really funny how all of these great chefs are now singing hossanahs to pork belly as an in ingredient while filipinos have always appreciated liempo.

    Sep 10, 2008 | 3:01 pm

  25. mojito_drinker says:

    i’m. so. hungry. now…

    Sep 10, 2008 | 6:14 pm

  26. ging says:

    absolutely gorgeous MM!

    Sep 10, 2008 | 9:01 pm

  27. alicia says:

    This is a thing of beauty!

    Sep 10, 2008 | 9:31 pm

  28. dragon says:

    It’s interesting how our simple, lowly, calorific and divine lechon kawali, shunned by a lot of Westerners (too fatty, unhealthy, etc.) becomes a rave when a Westerner creates it???

    Sep 11, 2008 | 2:07 pm

  29. inday hami says:

    could be mistaken for a dessert

    Sep 12, 2008 | 11:20 pm

  30. FleurElise says:

    This looks great! I can get pork belly right from the farm and was looking for a good recipe. I’m going to try it this weekend. I also have some itchara, and I was trying to figure out what to serve it with. I think this will go well. By the way, here is a link to a brief video of Gordon making this recipe. Your post gives more detail, which I absolutely need, but it’s also nice to have the video.


    Feb 10, 2009 | 10:05 am

  31. slink says:

    I serve it with a cabbage dish, crisp up some diced bacon in a pan put aside to drain oil, thinly sliced cabbage wilted in some olive oil and a dab of butter seasoned lightly with a sprinkle of whostershire sauce , add the bacon back just before serving, lay the pork belly on top of the cabbage and pour the sauce around the edge of the plate. sounds basic but tastes incredible even if you don’t usually enjoy cabbage

    Jun 20, 2009 | 3:02 pm

  32. NZFoodie says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m trying this recipe today and looking forward to tomorrow’s dinner!

    Aug 25, 2010 | 9:26 am


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