People keep asking me for my belly pork recipe (well, it’s not so much a recipe as a method), so I’ve decided to let you in on the secrets :D
Belly pork is a really under used cut of meat, with most people avoiding it because it’s quite fatty. HOWEVER if you cook it right (low & slow) that fat renders right down and keeps your meat moist and delicious, giving you great juices to create the best gravy too! As an added bonus, because it’s an under used cut you’ll be able to find belly pork really cheap!
How to Roast Belly Pork
For this method it’s better to use a slab of belly pork rather than the slices that you generally get, although if you can’t get a slab these will also work fine (you’ll just find some of the steps a little tricksy). You can get belly pork cut to your liking at a local butchers.
If you’re scared of bones, the slices may be best for you, as generally the slabs come with their bones left in :O I actually prefer to cook meat on the bone, especially with something like this, as it helps keep the roast moist and gives the cut some support in the tray.
You need to do preparation the night before and leave the meat in the fridge over night, so make sure you leave time and have space on a shelf in there!
First things first, if your butchers says ‘d’ya want it scoring, love?‘ say yes. Otherwise, it’s time to whip your your stanley knife and criss-cross the skin with 1cm deep cuts. It’s good to work in a lattice, so you’re left with diamond shaped bits of skin. Here, have a sketch:
My butcher scored my pork, and didn’t do the criss-crossy thing like I’ve illustrated above, everything still worked out well, but I really think the crisscrossy-ness gives you better pieces of crackling in the long run.
Righto, done that? Next step, this is a bit of a weird one, and a way that my mum told me to prepare pork for good crackling. Put the kettle on! You’re gunna scauld the hell out of it.
Put your pork on a wire rack (if you don’t have one, just put it in your roasting tray). Carefully pour the boiling water over the skin until you’ve used the kettle full. If you’ve used a roasting tray, quickly empty out the water before if starts cooking the meat! You’ll notice that the edges of the scoring will have contracted, pulling away from each other and widening the gaps – perfect stage for adding the seasoning. Transfer your belly pork into a suitably sized tray for roasting.
Using rock salt and black pepper, get that seasoning right into the gaps and all over the skin. Turn the meat over and repeat the seasoning on the underneath.
It should look kinda like it does above now. Time to put it in the fridge over night, this lets the salt do it’s work of pulling any moisture from the skin and helping towards getting the best crackling!
Cooking time can vary, but I’d say put aside at least 2 hours (perhaps 3 if you can!) for roasting. Preheat the oven on it’s very highest setting. Put your pork in on the middle shelf, and wait until you see the skin & top layers of fat puff right up (thanks, Jamie Oliver!), as soon as the skin looks like it’s bubbled and puffed as much as it’s going to, whack the heat right down low to around gas mark 3 (160ºc).
After about an hour, baste the pork with it’s juices. Your roast will be ready when the skin can pull away from the meat, and before anything starts burning ;) If you are in a rush, increase the temp to gas mark 4 and you should be ok.
Break up the crackling, serve with gravy made from the remaining juices & mash potato. Yum!