Before my mom left for the US early this year, I always told people that I was a frustrated cook. That I was only good for eating in the kitchen. She was on vacation for about a month so I had to kind of start learning how to cook or else my brother and I would be fat from ordering take-out or pre-maturely get sick of the food in Polo Club. I’m going off tangent. Anyway, I’ve been cooking quite a lot lately but I hardly ever get the chance to document the stuff I make just because no one’s there to hold the camera when I get my hands dirty. I remembered to have someone take photos this time though.
For a long time now, I’ve been curious about slow-roasting beef belly. Beef belly is essentially the short plate which is mostly regarded as a tough/cheap piece of meat. A lot of restaurants (El Cirkulo, Cue, Bizu) and even places like Mercato and the Salecedo market all seem to have awesome beef belly roasts and I guess I just always wanted to try my hand at it. I found a recipe on the El Cirkulo website, which I tried to follow because I think they have the best beef belly in town.
I bought my meat frozen from Sinan’s Butchery which is along Yakal St. The place is kind of like Santis but cheaper and they’re known to supply most hotels and restaurants with imported meat. This 2.65kg slab of Australian Beef – Short Plate was just Php 1,022.56. Isn’t that cheap for something this huge?
I set the oven to roast at 280 degrees F while I was setting up the beef just so it’d be at the right temperature when I put it in. I followed a fairly simple recipe which basically made me rub the meat with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and paprika. Introducing the artillery.
Remember, this is a pretty fatty cut of meat so it doesn’t need much olive oil. Just enough to get the salt, etc. to stick.
I added some garlic cloves around the meat so it’d cook in the oil during the roasting period. I stuck the entire tray in after sealing it in with foil.
I started roasting at 4PM and checked it a couple of times to see how tender it got. The recipe said it just needed 5 hours at maximum but it was quite hard to believe, most of the restaurants I go to boast 8-10 hour roasts so that’s kind of what I was expecting. I checked at around 7PM and it was still really tough. By 11PM the meat was still pretty tough so my mom shut the oven off and told me she’d try to fix it in the morning. I was sad and thought it was all a waste (my mom is an expert cook).
I woke up at 11 this morning to find out the roast was done and it was awesome. My mom stuck it in the oven at 350 degrees F from 7AM-11AM to see if it’d tenderize and it did but wow, it got way smaller.
I’d say the experiment was a success since my extended family came over for Sunday lunch and liked it. It was soft enough to eat without a knife but taste wise, Tita Ginger said it needed an herb of some sort. We all had to add salt and pepper for every slice we’d get. Gosh, this roast took me 11 hours. That’s a long, long time.