There is absolutely no way of cooking the perfect pork belly without having to clean your oven afterwards. The high temperature required to crisp the crackle presents the sad inevitably that your oven will be splattered with oil and fat. If you cook without cleaning. especially at high temperatures, the oven will smoke and spoil whatever it is that you are cooking.
Is it worth it…we think so!
The other warning is that this roast pork is so delicious I always allow 350g – 400g per person, thinking, that just maybe, there will be some left overs. There is some weight loss with the fat rendering out…but, REALLY, it is irristibly delicious.
½ serves 4, full 8
cooking time 2 hours
resting time before cutting 30 minutes½ to full pork belly…..take the belly out of the fridge at least one [two in winter] housr prior to starting the cooking process
quality fine salt…we use rock salt that has been blitzed in the Thermo
black pepper, freshly ground
1 head of local garlic [not shooting], sliced through horizontally into three
Very sharped beaked knife, also called a turning knife or a pork pricker [available from some Chinese grocers, scroll to the bottom]
wire rack if you are using the boiling water
if you are using the boiling water set up a meat chopping board. Put the rack in your sink and sit the pork skin side down on the rack and pour boiling water all over the skin. Working quickly to take advantage of the skin softened with the boiling water. Dry the skin with a clean cloth and transfer it to your chopping board. Working from the centre to the edge, score the skin about 5mm apart or prick the skin all over.
pre heat oven to 220°C full fan
nextput a good splash of EVO into your roasting dish and put the pork skin side down into the dish and turning it over a couple of times, roll the meat through the oil and coat both sides with oil. Season the meat side with salt and pepper, turn the belly back to the skin side and rub salt into the skin and cuts. Slide the garlic, cut side up, under the belly and then use your hands to squash and flatten the belly out as much as possible. This important because when the belly has uneven heights parts of the cracking will crisp quicker than others.
Put the roasting dish into the oven and fill the dish to the edge of the skin with hot water…close the door and set a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes baste the pork and if it is cooking unevenly rotate the dish. Top the water back up to the edge of the skin and set a timer for another 30 minutes. Baste [rotate if required to maintain even cooking] and set a timer for another 30 minutes. At the 90 minutes, the crackling should be perfectly blistered…sometimes it will be ready before the 90 minutes…so common sense it required. Also, if the crackling starts to burn in places you can slow this down by giving it a good spray with water and covering the section with foil.
Turn the heat down to 120°C and cook for a further 30 minutes….open the oven door and wedge a tea towel in the door to allow the steam to escape and rest for 30 minutes to allow the meat to firm up before slicing and serving it.
the pan juices
If you are not using any of the roasting juices to make a hot sauce, put the baking dish in the fridge for about one hour. Skim the fat from the top and freeze to keep it fresh..always respecting religious dietary requirements, we use this delicious rendered pork fat for making confit and roast potatoes.
Now the concentrated meat juices [the dark jelly under the fat] have a multitude of uses, from a hot sauce, heated and strained to the basis of many other great pork sauces. Can be as simple as 50:50 pan juices and apple juice [if you’re not making your own apple juice our preference is Preshafruit brand Granny Smith….please re-use the bottle it comes in] and reduce to a good sauce consistency. This juice also makes a fabulous apple jelly 10g leaf gelatine to 500g juice…cut into cubes and served with a classic Waldorf salad and room temp belly it makes a perfect summer lunch.
Or if you’ve nothing in mind freeze and use for any pork or beef slow cook recipe where you are looking for concentrated flavour.
pictured above roasted pork belly with new seasons garlic that has been crisped in the rendered pork fat
Hot – using the scoring cuts as a guide slice the belly and serve on a warm plate. Sauce it otpional; we also like a range of mustards and mustard fruits.
Room temperature– when the 30 minutes rest in the oven is complete stand the baking dish on a rack and allow the belly to cook for a further hour.
Cold – straight from the fridge…never!!
Reheating – we are not fans of ‘double cooked’ akka reheated and a la minute has always been our mantra. What’s wrong with cooking a belly for evening service it as a special and when it’s sold there’s no more! But, if you must, allow the belly to cool at room temperature. Remove the crackling….this can be rewarmed in a 200°C oven. Slice the meat, and vac in single slice thickness ….straight from the fridge in a circolator set at 70°C for 12-15 minutes.
A full pork belly is usually about 4kg but because the fat cooks out there is significant weight loss during the cooking process and whilst we always plan for left overs, it has to be said that there are rarely any.
We buy our pork bellies from our Chinese butcher. The Chinese kitchen is very particular about pork…the right amount of fat, but most importantly they are usually female or castrated pigs and it is, a well-known fact, that the flesh of the female pig has a superior taste. Cutting off the nipples before you score or prick the skin is a disgusting task, made all the more disgusting for me, because it provokes the memory of a chef, who shall remain nameless walking around the kitchen for hours with the nipples carefully placed on his apron!!! It is however necessary.
The purpose of the boiling water is to soften the skin so that it is easier to cut or to prick…we do not always do this, especially if the skin is nice and dry, but we do have very sharp knives.
………………. pictured left a version of the pork pricker that is very well designed ergonomically. There are plenty of versions but this is our favourite style.
Be very careful to wash thoroughly, even maybe consider stegrilising!