No one likes hairy pork belly, certainly not in their mouth. If the butcher did a sloppy job, you can make up for it at home.
Many find it difficult to remove the hair from the skin of the pig’s belly when they pick it up at the butcher’s or grocer’s. They get home, open the package, and BOOM, there it is, full of pig hair. So how do you remove hair from the skin of pork belly?
Removing hair from the pig’s belly can be done in four different ways: The first is scalding; the second is shaving; the third involves a blowtorch; and the last is heating the cast iron skillet over high heat and searing off the hair by pressing down on the meat.
We know how annoying it is when you buy meat and the cooking process doesn’t quite go the way you planned it.
So we will go over each method and give some safety tips to help you through those annoying times. The idea itself is quick and easy, but the advice in this article could save your day in the kitchen.
Why are There Pig Hairs In the Pork Belly Skin?
Curiously enough, the reason why the pig’s belly is hairy is because of the way it is raised. The pigs have longer hair so they do not get sunburn as quickly. The solution to this problem is to find a better, more natural way of raising these animals that roam free in the wild—a tanned pig is a pig less hairy.
Most of the excess hair comes from the slaughterhouse. Once it gets to the butcher or the grocery store, the meat is simply cut up, and whatever hair is left is packaged along with the meat.
The sloppy butchery leaves a challenge for those of us who are in a hurry or, in general, don’t want to deal with hairs on their raw meat.
How To Remove Hair From Pork Belly Skin
Clearly, we need smarter food solutions for our future generations, even if that means paying more per pound at the supermarket. Until that has happened, here you will learn how to remove the pork hair from the skin of the pork belly. You can choose which option is best for you and the tools you have at hand.
Good luck with your kitchen adventures and remember to keep it tasty!
The Scalding Method
The scaling method involves bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil, then taking it off the heat, waiting for it to cool down somewhat, and submerging the pork belly for 50-60 seconds in it.
The water must be hot enough to soften the hair, but not so hot that it starts to cook the meat. Once the scaling is done, you must submerge the meat in a big bowl filled with ice water to interrupt the cooking process.
After 2-3 minutes, the pork belly will have chilled. At this stage, you can take it out, lay it on a wood cutting board or butcher’s block, and scrape off the hairs with a sharp knife. The result is perfectly hairless pork belly that must be cooked immediately.
Here’s how this goes:
- Take a tall pot or Dutch oven filled with enough water to completely submerge the pork belly. It should be ¾ full (when you submerge the belly, the water rises).
- Put the pot on the burner, crank the heat all the way up to high, and bring the water to a vigorous rolling boil.
- Remove the pot from the stove and place it where spillage wouldn’t cause too much of a mess, whether your driveway or on a flat stone slab or wood block in the backyard.
- Allow the water to cool down for a minute. If you have an instant-read thermometer in the kitchen, pull it out and use it to determine when the water reaches 140°F (60°C).
- Submerge the pork belly in the hot water for 50-60 seconds. Keep your hands and feet at a safe distance lest you get scalded by spilled water.
- As soon as the time is up, take the pork belly out of the pot and chill it in an ice water bath for 2-3 minutes.
- In the kitchen, lay the pork belly on a cutting board and scrape the hairs off using a small and sharp knife, such as a boning knife, a skinning knife, or a hunting knife. The hairs should have softened and be easier to remove.
Wash your hands with warm, soapy water and sanitize all surfaces, cookware, and utensils that came in contact with your hands or with the meat during this process. Raw pork can harbor harmful bacteria that can easily transfer to other surfaces and cross-contaminate your food.
(The same scaling method is used on whole hogs and birds.)
The Shaving Method
Compared to scaling, shaving is a less capricious way of removing hair from the pig’s belly.
Wrap the pork belly in plastic or seal it in a freezer bag, then place it in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes. The cold will make the skin firm but supple, making it easier for you to shave the hair off.
When the time is up, remove the pork belly from the freezer, place it on a cutting board or butcher block, and rub the hairy areas with cooking oil. A razor in one hand and holding the meat steady with the other, shave the hairs off.
You want to make slow, steady movements with the razor that let you remove the entirety of the hairs. We’ve found that a simple safety razor equipped with a double-edged blade works best, although a straight shaving razor will also do.
Once you are done, it’s critical that you wash your hands. Use a cheap razor that you can throw away immediately after you’ve completed the job at hand.
The Blow Torch Method
This method has to do with burning the hair off of the pig. Here is how you do it:
Get the blow torch and start to sear off all of the hair. The pig will be lying on its back, and you will want to blow straight up so that you get all of the hair in your way. You can also try using a propane torch if you don’t have a blow torch available. Just make sure not to burn any part of the pig while doing this method.
The trick is to sway the flame back and forth. Do not keep the torch in one spot too long, or the meat will burn. As mentioned earlier, we prefer using both methods of scalding and coming back with the blow torch to finish off the job. This leaves a smoother and cleaner job.
The Searing Method
If you find hair on the pork belly, try this method. Simply place a cast iron skillet in a 500°F (260°C) oven for about 30 minutes to get the vessel evenly hot.
At the thirtieth minute, grab the skillet with mittens or a kitchen towel and slowly run the underside of it (the one that’s facing the burner when you fry on the stove) over the pig’s skin, being careful not to touch any part of the meat so as not to cook it.
This will sear off all of those little hairs that you didn’t even know were there; giving it that clean look, especially if you do this outdoors where others won’t be bothered by flying embers burning around.
Summing It Up
These are three safe and effective methods for removing the hair from pork belly that does not involve coming back later with anything to clean up any hairs you may have missed when scaling the meat properly. These are methods that have been used for hundreds of years.
The last thing anyone wants is to find little black hairs in their bacon, so keep this in mind when doing your own butchering at home. Getting an old-fashioned scalding knife works miracles, too. They are designed to cut and remove the hair with every stroke.