Pork Belly

I’m in a bad mood. There’s no particular reason for it. But regardless it leads me to change my post plans for this week. I was going to write about Angel Cake but today feels like no day for such fripperies. The two day Dublin summer also seems to have drawn to a close. This actually isn’t too unfortunate for me as unnecessarily hot weather sometimes annoys me.

So, all that being said, I feel like a recipe for a big hunk o’ crispy, salty, juicy, unashamedly unhealthy meat is called for. Step forward pork belly. I should mention that meaty roasts aren’t really my forté despite my love of them. I gave this BBC recipe a whirl. It falls somewhere between a quick and a slow roast, that is 3hrs.

Before we go any further may I ask why can you no longer look at a piece of pork without someone dowsing it in the sickly aniseediness of fennel? I dare say we need to blame the likes of Jamie Oliver and I say down with such nonsense.

Back to the recipe. It chats about crackling. Crackling normally offends me. More the people eating it than the crackling itself really. The noise of loud eaters truly upsets me to my very core. I warned you that I was in a bad mood. So, without trying, the crackling turned out perfectly and the underlying meat wasn’t too shabby either. I feel the addition of the lemon half way through, in the original recipe, is an odd choice. It causes the goo in the roasting dish to catch which is unhelpful. I feel a slice of lime served alongside the finished meat would be preferable.

All in all make this pork and watch a film. Forget the world is out there.

Oven temperature 200 Celsius

Slab o’ pork belly

Garlic cloves                  3

Thyme                              Small handful or young sprigs

Peppercorns                    1 teaspoon

Olive oil                            few glugs

Fancy salt

Wedge of lime

To prepare the rub, skin the garlic cloves and remove the thyme leaves from their stalks and put all of those good bits in a pestle and mortar. Add in the peppercorns and a tablespoon of olive oil. Pound it all, releasing your frustrations, till everything is well bruised and the garlic is well smushed.

I suppose this looks alright
I suppose this looks alright

Score the skin side of the pork belly into diamonds, look at the photo.

diamondy, just like I said
diamondy, just like I said

Now flip it over and scoop your herby marinade onto the meaty side. Cove as much of the meat as possible, then wrap the hunk in cling film and place in a bowl. I let mine marinade, unrefrigerated, for about 2hrs and it was plenty.

I suppose this looks alight too
I suppose this looks alright too

Preheat the oven about 10mins before you’re ready to start cooking. Unwrap your pork and place it on a roasting wrack in a roasting tray, skin side up. Pour over a generous glug of olive oil over the skin and salt well. Pop it into the oven.

this looks like raw meat
this looks like raw meat

Roast at this initial temperature of 200 Celsius for 30mins then turn the oven down to 180 Celsius and cook for a further 2hrs. After that turn the oven all the way up to 220 Celsius and cook for a final 30mins. My meat was just shy of 1kg, I think, and these timings worked for me. If you have more meat then cook it for longer, if you have a smaller piece then cook it for less time.

this, too, looks alright I suppose
this, too, looks alright I suppose

After the 3hrs remove the meat from the oven and cover tightly with foil. Let the poor beast rest for 30mins. This really does make a difference so do it.

You should now have cringingly crispy crackling and succulent meaty goodness beneath. Serve with a wedge of lime and anything else you fancy, I went for roast potatoes, blanched broccoli and a rhubarb compote.

Now close the curtains and eat in front of a crap film with someone lovely.


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