I love a standing rib roast, and I do love the flavors of a prime rib though I am not the type to order it at a restaurant. I also love pork in all ways, racks, bellies, bacon, head cheese, loins, trotters, jowls, you name it I love it. So I decided to try creating my own version of a “Pork Prime Rib”. I like a good pork rack but it lacks the fat (i.e. protection and flavor) of a standing rib roast. Thinking about how to handle this situation it dawned on me that what the rack needed was all of the goodness of a braised pork belly. Now how am I to add a belly to a rack you ask? With transglutaminase (meat glue, also know as activa) of course. I went out and found a great four bone rack along with a beautiful piece of belly to go along with. I took them home and carefully glued them together using transglutaminase.
I have to stop here and truly ask those who read this and decide to work with a meat glue (transglutaminase) to do all the research they can. This chemical while fun is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal. Not because of side effects but because of what it does. Transglutaminase bond proteins together and they do not discriminate. Should you breathe them in, then you will end up with lungs that are glued shut. So again, please do all the research possible and take all of the necessary precautions when using this product.
Now back to the project at hand. My theory was that I needed a larger amount of fat, or fatty tissue between the primary heat source and the back part of the bones along with a lower overall temperature and longer time period in order to cook this thing properly. I carefully trussed the meat so that it would maintain a nice round shape and scored the fat cap of the belly in an attempt to render the fat quicker thus flavoring the meat before it was over cooked. I then seared the entire thing on all sides in a hot roasting pan. Placing the pork on a rack in the same roasting pan I then put it in a 250 degree Fahrenheit or 120 degreses Celsius or Gas Mark 1/2. I cooked the pork for just over eight hours, longer than I expected to have to cook it, and longer than I wanted to cook it. I did not monitor the internal temperature on purpose. The reason for this is the fact that I know how long pork belly can take to cook to a perfect point of tenderness. What I was hoping for was the rack of pork to work out because of the added layers of meat and fat the heat had to get through until it was completely cooked. I had thought about gluing the belly all the way around the rack and looking back I probably should have tried that. The two reasons I didn’t do it were one I did not like the presentation aspects of it, and two I did not think the meat below the bone line would cook the same as the meat glued to the rack meat.
After cooking the entire piece until the belly section was tender enough for me to want to eat it I removed it from the oven and allowed it to rest for 30 minutes. I then put it back into a 350 degree Fahrenheit or 180 degree Celsius or Gas Mark 4 oven to reheat for a mere 10 minutes. From the pictures you can see that the pork in my opinion was over cooked though it had an amazing flavor. I was going for a medium well done here thinking that the belly itself should be no less than well done leaving the rack meat at a medium well. Overall the belly was tender, needing no knife to cut it, and the pork rack itself had a wonderful flavor. You may also notice that the belly started to come off of the rack which in my opinion did add to the over cooking of the rack meat itself though not by much.
For the next attempt I am going to cook it using two different methods. First I will slow sear the belly part just as I would a duck breast, allowing the fat to render down slowly and for that wonderful Maillard reaction to occur. Once I have achieved a beautiful caramel crisp exterior I will the cook the pork as I would a standing rib roast at 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 1/4 for one hour per pound to achieve a medium internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 63 Celsius. I will again allow the meat to rest for a period of 30 minutes and then return it to a 350 degree Fahrenheit or 180 degree Celsius or Gas Mark 4 oven for a period of 15 minutes to re heat at which point I will slice and serve.
— matt bolus