Sunday, 12 April 2015

Slow Roast Pork Belly

I've been wanting to cook pork belly forever. It's always been that amazing treat that I have to order in a restaurant or at get fed at someone else's house. Never have I been brave enough to cook it on my own with a delicious slab of meat purchased from an actual BUTCHER!

The reason I've been so rubbish and haven't posted in a while is because I've been slow roasting this pork belly for 2 weeks. Ha. Don't worry dear, it's only a joke - it only takes a few hours. I've moved house, and now we live near an actual butcher. I know where all my money is now going to go.

I didn't marinate mine overnight because I'm not organised enough, a good old fashioned rub down an hour before cooking was enough for me. However if you do wish to marinate overnight, I imagine it will be glorious.

For me the ultimate pork belly is made of a crispy, crackly, golden skin and tender, succulent meat, mostly an enabler for the skin really. I thoroughly researched the different methods to get the crackliest skin and found that Moro's pork belly recipe seemed to create the best results. It is also more fun as involves a slightly more extreme hair-dryer method to reach the crispy crackling goal. Don't be put off by the fennel seeds if you're not into fennel, it adds a fabulous subtle flavour and I know you'll love it. Yes, I know these things.

I can honestly tell you this created the crispiest of crackling and the most tender and juicy meat. Not a chewy piece of crackling in sight. The crunching was heard from miles around, noise disturbance complaints were filed and crackling fans everywhere rejoiced. 

Slow Roast Pork Belly
Mostly Moro method...

Quantities: Serves 4 hungry people, comfortably

Timings: 3 hours 

Kitchen Stuff: Pestle and mortar, roasting tin

1.5kg Pork Belly, bones removed and skin scored by butcher
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
11/4 tbsp fennel seeds
2 teaspoon sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
half an onion, peeled
1-2 tbsp flour (for gravy)
Good splosh of white wine (for gravy)


Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8.

1. PESTLE & MORTAR: Crush 1 tbsp fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. Mix the crushed fennel seeds with 1tsp sea salt and the crushed garlic and some black pepper and rub all over the flesh of the pork belly (not the skin).

2. HAIR DRYER: Dry the pork belly skin thoroughly, a hair dryer works well (and is fun). Generously sprinkle the skin with lots of sea salt and the remaining crushed fennel seeds, rub it in to the skin and leave it for 20 mins. Lightly dust off the excess salt and pat dry any moisture with some kitchen towel.

Place the onion half in the roasting tin and the pork belly on top to create a slightly convex shape and help the crackling crisp up. Place the roasting tin on the top shelf of the oven.

It is very important that your oven is seriously hot when you put the pork in to start with to help blister and crisp up the skin. As mentioned, crackling is of high priority here. 

Like so:

3. OVEN: Roast at high heat for 20-30 minutes until a hard crackling has formed, then reduce the heat to 190°C. Pour 3 tbsp water into the bottom of the roasting tin to prevent the meat juices from burning (this part is very important to stop the oven smoking and also gives you lovely gravy juices at the end). Continue to cook for 2 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. 

4. GRAVY & SERVING: Once you've removed your beautiful belly from the oven, carefully remove it from the roasting tin and put it on a wooden board to rest whilst you make your gravy. Put your roasting tin with all its juices directly on the hob on a medium heat and add 1-2 tbsp flour and whisk all the juices together with the flour. Add more or less flour depending on your desired gravy thickness. Add a splosh of white wine to your taste. 

Once your pork belly has rested for at least 10 minutes (to retain juices), slice up the belly along the scoring and serve with the gravy and whatever other lovely dishes your heart desires.