“One day Antonio, a mason who helped build Hartwood from the ground up (and some of whose ten children have worked in the restaurant), brought in some pure agave nectar—the real stuff from the succulent plant, preservative-free and unfiltered, with some flakes of leaves left in it. He began pouring it onto roasted habaneros and popping them into his mouth. It seemed it was going to be SO spicy. Imagine: a whole habanero in your mouth? You would need a week to get over that much heat. But he seemed fine. It turns out the agave provides an incredible balance to the hot pepper (though there’s still a mild burn). And it works beautifully against the fat of the pork belly as a glaze.” – Chef Eric Werner
This recipe is courtesy of Eric Werner and Mya Henry and reproduced with permission of Artisan Books. Click here to purchase your own copy of Werner’s cookbook Hartwood: Bright, Wild Flavors from the Edge of the Yucatán.
- One 4-pound bone-in pork belly or 3½-pound boneless pork belly
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 6 poblano chiles, coarsely chopped
- 3 habaneros, sliced into ¼-inch- thick rounds, seeds removed
- 3 serrano chiles, chopped
- 1 cup agave nectar
- 2 cups water
- 1 large ripe pineapple (about 3½ pounds)
- ¼ cup best-quality apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Season the pork belly all over with the salt and pepper. Put all the chiles in a large roasting pan and place the pork belly skin side down on top. Drizzle with ½ cup of the agave. Pour the remaining ½ cup agave and the water into the pan.
- Cover the pan tightly with two layers of aluminum foil, transfer to the oven, and cook for 3 hours, carefully loosening the foil and basting the pork with the pan juices every hour.
- Turn the pork over, cover, and cook until very tender, about 4 more hours.
- Transfer the pork to another roasting pan; if it is bone-in, remove and discard the bones. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan (there should be about 5½ cups); reserve the chiles. Gently boil the juices until reduced and thickened to a glaze (about 1¼ cups liquid), 45 to 50 minutes. Add the reserved chiles and remove from the heat. Let cool, then refrigerate.
- Meanwhile, cover the pork with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper or a small baking sheet. Top with a large plate and put weights, such as large cans, on top. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, bring the pork belly to room temperature. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.
- Trim and peel the pineapple (if you have a pineapple corer, core the pineapple now). Cut the pineapple into ½-inch- thick rounds. Remove the core from each round with a small round cutter.
- Brush the grill grate with oil. Grill the pineapple until nicely charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side; set aside. Let the grill cool to medium heat.
- Reheat the glaze. Slice the pork belly into 1-inch- thick slices, arrange on the grill, and brush with some of the glaze. Grill until warmed and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Brush the pork again with some of the glaze.
- To serve, place 2 or 3 pineapple slices on each plate. Spoon some glaze over, top with the pork belly, and drizzle with the vinegar.