Roast pork belly is one of my faves. You could use this as the filling for the barbecue brioche buns recipe I posted here a while ago. Or you could just cram it into a ready bought brioche burger bun; there are plenty of them around these days. If you wanted to avoid the sweet buttery bread option, you could adopt the Chinese lamb idea and roll it into crunchy lettuce leaves with spring onion and a bit of sliced fresh chilli.
When I made this last weekend, the idea was to finish it off on the barbecue…the smoky charcoal adding a mellow edge to the sweet meat, but we didn’t get round to that in the end…we were too starving to wait. So instead I served it with roasted aubergine, peppers, onions and sweet potatoes (shame to waste the heat of the oven, eh?).
It’s really great for left-overs, too, so always make loads more than you think you’ll ever eat…stir-fry anyone?!
- Slab of pork belly
- Fennel seeds, 2 tbsp
- Szechuan peppercorns, 2 tbsp
- Smoked paprika, 1 heaped tbsp
- Chinese five spice, 1 heaped tbsp
- English mustard powder, 2 tsp
- Garlic powder, 2 tsp (omit if you don’t have)
- Dried oregano, 1 tsp
- One onion, halved
- Handful of garlic cloves (skin left on)
- Herbs of your choice – I used several bay leaves, bunch of thyme and some sage
- Shaoxing rice wine – a good slug
- Hoisin Sauce (to mix with the cooking juices, to serve)
Prepare the pork the night before cooking by scoring the skin and pouring boiling water over the top. This cleans the surface of the meat but more importantly makes the skin contract, which opens up the gaps between the scores and makes for better crackling.
Pat dry with kitchen towel then place in a dish and leave in the fridge uncovered, so that the skin has plenty of time to dry thoroughly.
Early the next morning, preheat the oven to 200deg/180 FAN.
Grind the fennel seeds and Szechuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of sea salt flakes, then stir in the remaining dry marinade ingredients (i.e. everything but the onion, garlic and fresh herbs).
Rub this dry marinade all over the pork, covering as much of the surface of the meat as possible, really working it into all the crevices (ooh-er).
Sprinkle additional sea salt onto the skin and, again, rub it into the cracks.
Place the herbs, garlic and cut onion into a shallow baking dish and place the pork on top – skin side up (natch).
Pour the rice wine in the dish (but not over the skin…you want to keep that baby nice and dry).
Whack in the oven and roast for an initial 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 120deg/100 FAN and continue cooking for a good 4-5 hours.
When the meat is tender, remove the skin and place on a separate roasting tray and return to a mega hot oven to get it nice and crispy. If you’re not a crackling fan, then obviously don’t bother (but please know that you are not of sound mind…)
Meanwhile, pour all of the meat juices into a cup and spoon off the fat (keep this for left over stir-fries or egg fried rice, or to cook pork chops, steak – anything, in fact!).
Transfer the juices to a small pan and add several tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce then heat through til bubbly. Pour this over the meat when serving. YUM!!
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