Food & Drink

Slow-Grilled Pork Belly and Melon de Milpa

From Hartwood authors Eric Werner and Mya Henry: This is a play on the classic Italian pairing of prosciutto and melon. It came about when we found the melon de milpa, which looks like a squash on the outside, but is pure melon inside. It ripens really fast, and when we have it at Hartwood, the kitchen smells intensely of fruit. As for the ham, it’s impossible for us to cure here in the humid air. Instead, a nice, slow-grilled pork belly will get good and smoky. Serves 4.

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers

Slow-Grilled Pork Belly with Cacao Beans and Melon de Milpa


  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Roasted Chile Oil
  • 1 tablespoon mashed Roasted Garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 dried pasilla chiles
  •  One 1¾-pound boneless pork belly, excess fat trimmed off
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 2 tablespoons chapulines (dried grasshoppers; optional)
  • 1 melon de milpa or cantaloupe, halved, seeded, and sliced ½ inch thick

Make the glaze: Combine the honey, oil, garlic, slat, pepper, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the chiles and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth.

Put the pork belly in a large bowl and rub with half of the glaze. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Toast the cacao nibs and chapulines, if using, in a small dry cast-iron skillet for 2 minutes. Coarsely grind in a spice grinder and reserve for garnish.

Prepare a grill for high heat.

Oil the grill grate. Grill the pork belly over the hottest part of the grill for 2 minutes on each side to mark it, then grill over a medium-hot fire for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the belly and brushing it with some of the remaining glaze every 10 minutes, until a knife easily pierces the thickest part. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Bring the remaining glaze to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Pour the glaze over the pork belly, then slice it and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the ground cacao nibs and chapulines, if using, over the pork belly and serve with the melon alongside.

Hartwood Flat Cover
Once upon a time, an intrepid young couple left restaurant jobs in New York to build the place of their dreams, between the jungle and the sea, in Tulum, Mexico. Today, Hartwood is one of the most inspiring restaurants in the world. This dazzling cookbook captures their vibrant, modern-rustic food in recipes anyone can cook at home.

For more recipes like this one, make sure to check out Hartwood.

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