Dad, this one’s for you!
Jamie is taking a back seat tonight, providing the accompanying sauce and vegetables, which leaves my favourite roast for main – roast pork belly. So Dad, as you’re always asking me how I do it, here is my step-by-step recipe. Please note I am not a professional cook book writer so I can’t guarantee the finished product, but my roast always tastes good, and the crackling pretty much works every time.
Step 2: Make the marinade/rub. Chop two cloves of garlic and pound with a pestle and mortar with half a teaspoon of coarse sea salt and a tablespoon of fennel seeds (measurements are a guesstimate!) until you get a paste. Add some ground pepper then just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste (about a tablespoon). Rub all over the meaty part of the pork belly and leave to marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge.
Step 3: Allow the meat to come up to room temperature, pre -heat the oven to pretty much it’s highest setting, although with our oven that’s too hot, so I go for about 220 degrees Celsius.
Step 4: Place the pork in a roasting tray, skin side up, on top of some vegetables, to prevent it touching the bottom of the tray and help form the gravy. I usually use celery, carrot, onion and garlic, but you can use whatever you’ve got in the cupboard, sometimes I only use onion if that’s all I’ve got.
Step 5: Make sure the skin of the pork is dry and sprinkle with salt to help it crisp up. Then pour some water in the base of the roasting tray, just enough to cover the veg but not really touch the meat. You might have to top this up as the meat roasts.
Step 7: After 15-20 minutes, turn the oven down to about 150 degrees Celsius and continue cooking for about 1.5 hours depending on the size of you meat. Mine is 700g today, probably a bit big for two, but it’s just so tasty and it’s difficult to cook a smaller piece. Rick Stein recommends 1.5kg for 4-6 people.
Step 8: Once the meat is cooked through, and meltingly tender – but not too dry – increase the temperature of the oven to 220 again and finish off for 15-20 minutes to crisp up the skin good and proper!