This is a blimmin’ fantastic slow-cooked pork belly recipe. With very little effort, you end up with that wondrous contrast of meltingly delicious meat and salty crunchy crackling. I’ve tried loads of pork belly recipes using all manner of spices, brines, sauces and seasonings, but we’re going back to basics here. I just serve this chopped up on a board and people can pick at it – it’s heaven, although it doesn’t last long! Sometimes, I add a little homemade apple sauce to cut through the richness.
1-2kg pork belly (free range is best)
Note: If you’re buying pork belly from your local butcher, ask them to ‘score’ the skin for you so you don’t have to. Sometimes it’s already scored when you buy it – even then I usually add a few more cuts for good measure.
Preheat the oven to 130c conventional bake.
Place the pork belly skin-side up on a clean chopping board and pat the skin very dry with paper towels. If the skin has not already been scored, carefully slice lines right across the belly using a sharp knife, about 1cm apart. You want to pierce through the tough skin and just go into the fat layer, not cut into the meat underneath. Scoring helps the crackling puff up later.
Place the pork belly skin side up in a roasting pan, preferably sitting on a wire rack if you have one. Drizzle and rub a good amount of olive oil all over the whole pork belly (including the underside) so it’s all coated. Sprinkle the skin side generously with salt and massage it in. I give it a hit of cracked pepper here too.
If there’s any meat poking out, try and tuck it under best you can so it’s not exposed.
Place the pork in the middle of the oven (skin side up) and cook in for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, increase the temperature to 150c and cook for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, change the oven setting to ‘grill’ on medium-high. Move the pork belly to the top of the oven and grill the skin until it goes puffy and golden all over (it might only take a minute – watch it closely or it will burn!).
Transfer to a chopping board and cut into pieces to serve. For a meal it’s delicious with a nice zesty salad or a slaw and pumpkin or orange kumara mash.
Betcha there’s none left at the end…