I adore pork belly, mainly as it gives me an excuse to eat the worst, but best part of the meat – the fat! Belly pork is to my mind the best cut of pork as when it cooks the thin layers of fat keep the meat moist and juicy as they’ll self baste in the tin. If the crackling is right, crunchy but not tough, then this is one of the finest dishes there is!
RECIPE: (this will serve 4)
1kg slab of pork belly
1 tablespoon sherry or cider vinegar
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves (skin on)
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Score the skin of the pork in diagonal lines to form a diamond pattern with a sharp paring knife. Turn over and pierce the flesh all over with the knife. Boil a kettle then pour the boiling water over the pork skin. Pat dry with paper towels then rub salt & pepper all over the skin and flesh.
Cut the onions into 3cm thick slices and arrange side by side in a roasting tin. Arrange the garlic cloves on top then place the pork on top. This will allow the fat to drain and avoid the pork stewing in it. Pour in about 1cm water around the outside and then add the vinegar. Place the pork uncovered in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Check for water levels every 15 minutes and add more when necessary. The pork will eventually give up the fight and become tender and juicy.
Remove the pork, then place under a hot grill for 3 minutes to crispen the skin. Discard the onions as they’ll be a bit greasy.
Serve either sliced or in 10cm squares with vegetables. I served mine with a scrummy turnip puree and minted peas & french beans with serrano and garlic.