Tirripaisti (Finnish Pork Belly)

As I mentioned in my Chicken in Champagne Sauce recipe earlier this year, I draw inspiration from many sources – online research, reader requests, or from friends. Today’s recipe is inspired by a reader’s recent tip, left in a comment from the Nakkikastike (Finnish Hot Dogs in Sauce) recipe I shared a couple years back.

Like Nakkikastike, Tirripaisti is a staple Finnish comfort food – not quite haute cuisine, but something to warm the belly in all the right ways. In researching the recipe, I found there were two general methods to prepare this dish in Finland; some simply season the pork belly and fry it up as you would bacon, while others insist the pork should be sauteed with onion, then simmered in water to make a sort of gravy. I’ve provided recipes for each preparation – they’re both super easy.

In most cases, Tirripaisti is served with boiled and mashed potatoes (or sometimes boiled turnips) and a vegetable of some kind – like pickled beets or roasted veggies.

If you have any recipe development requests, I’m all ears – feel free to leave them in the comments below. Bear in mind that between this site and my two cookbooks, I’ve covered over 600 recipes, so chances are I’ve already tackled many that you’re looking for! Here are the recipe lists for The Ancestral Table and Paleo Takeout.

Tirripaisti - Finnish Pork Belly (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

Crispy version:

1 lb pork belly, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt, more to taste

1. In a bowl, combine the pork belly, allspice, pepper, and salt; toss until well-mixed. Transfer to a cold cast-iron skillet, then set the heat to medium-low. Continue to sauté until the pork has browned, stirring every few minutes, about 12 minutes altogether. You’ll know the pork belly is ready when most of the fat has rendered and the oil forms small bubbles (like in the picture above).

Saucy version:

1 lb pork belly, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 small onion, diced

1. In a bowl, combine the pork belly, allspice, pepper, and salt; toss until well-mixed. Transfer to a cold cast-iron skillet, then set the heat to medium-low. Once the pork belly starts to release its liquid fat, add the onion.

2. Continue to sauté until the pork has started to brown and the onion has softened, stirring every few minutes, about 10 minutes altogether. Add enough water to just cover the pork, about 1 cup, then simmer gently until the pork is tender and about half of the liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes.

To serve:
mashed potatoes
roasted brussels sprouts

** Quick mashed potatoes tutorial: peel and slice some Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes into 2″ chunks; cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes, then drain. Add butter and heavy cream while mashing, a bit at a time, until the right consistency. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

** Quick roasted brussels sprouts tutorial: slice in half lengthwise, then toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper; roast at 425F until browned and crispy, about 40 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes.

17 thoughts on “Tirripaisti (Finnish Pork Belly)

  1. My dream is to selectively breed pork until I develop a pig entirely made of belly!

    You should really do a recipe involving the local Florida cuisine you have available there in the panhandle. Fresh Apalachicola oysters, whole sheepshead, or my favorite, the smoked stripped mullet.

    I know these aren’t ingredients available to the majority of your readers, but they would make for an interesting read.

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    1. Jeremy, you bring up a good point about locally available ingredients; I have been playing around with some local items but haven’t shared them so as to not alienate readers. I do have a few in the works, though, which I plan on sharing in the coming months!

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      1. Awesome Russ, glad to hear it. There are some great beef farmers up in North Florida as well. When I had more time, I used to drive up there and get a half or whole beef. Good prices, good farmers.

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  2. Russ, this is great to have another delicious pork belly recipe, thank you!
    Question: we’re not supposed to drain off any of the rendered fat?

    Recipes that I’d love to see you tackle:
    1) Ethiopian: (Ye)Beg Alicha — I made it last week using the “Paleo by Season” recipe and it came out way dry and overcooked, although the flavor was good. It was like intensely flavored lamb jerky. I’d love to see and try your spin on this delicious lamb dish!

    2) Authentic Mexican enchiladas, but with tortillas — I realize that I could use your recipe for the ones without tortillas, but since it’s several years old, I thought you might want to do a new spin on them using either plantain, cauliflower, cassava or some type of tortilla, and cheese please!

    3) Key lime pie — I’ve been unable to find any authentic paleo recipes for it, other than in cheesecake form. It would be great to have dairy and dairy-free options for it. (I eat full fat dairy, and actually prefer it to coconut milk (the canned stuff just doesn’t appeal to me), although whole creamed coconut I like).

    If I think of more for my wish list for you, I’ll let you know!

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    1. Hi Susan, thanks for the requests! The fat can be drained off from the crispy version of this recipe, most definitely. But for the saucy version, the water is added before the fat renders, so while the sauce gets a bit of liquid fat in it, the fat stays on the pork pieces themselves.

      At this point I’ve given up on making decent (or at least shareable!) tortillas that could be used in a sauce; I’ve found that the time investment and high difficulty just aren’t worth the effort for a blog post. Instead, we’ve come to use the Siete Foods tortillas in that context (they work brilliantly!). But you bring up a good idea in that I really haven’t tackled a solid enchiladas sauce, so that is something I’ll add to my list!

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  3. When I saw the sizzling pan..it reminded me of home. I was a little kid when mom or dad had the cast iron pan out frying pork belly. The next step is to cube up dark rye bread and throw it in the hot grease. You used everything in those days. The crispy rye bread was s-o-o-o-o good. You need the bacon fat for that salty taste.

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  4. Your crispy pork belly reminded me of a quest my husband has been on for over twenty years. In 1995 he was in Munich and enjoyed a ham hock that he says was the best thing he’s ever tasted. Meat fell off the bone and (this is the important part) the skin was crispy and delicious. He has tried numerous times over the years to duplicate it, but always the skin turns out to be the problem — generally inedible. Any thoughts?

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    1. Hi Janet, I too fell in love with that dish while traveling in Bavaria! The German name for the dish is Schweinshaxe, often translated as “pork knuckle”. Drying out the skin overnight before roasting will help to make the skin crispy without being too tough. Here is a pretty good recipe: http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/Schweinshaxe/Schweishaxe2/

      If I get my hands on some fresh hock I will try to develop and post my own recipe!

      Liked by 1 person

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