Whilst bacon might very well reign supreme as the Porcine Prince, it’s that badass, Pork Belly, the fearless, swine-buckling warrior who has unequivocally hogged the crown of haute and bloat. Pork belly is simply just a massive slab of bacon; uncured, un-smoked and unsliced. Slow roasted, the tender melting wobble of it, arghhhh……that satisfying crunch, blistered on top but hiding a layer of yielding creamy fat underneath…..
Let me sing the praises of pork belly, the supercool replacement for bacon amongst the porker culinary elite; indeed, Peppa Pigs most divine gift.
Although picky about pork, this sexy beast does so much more than the usual bacon can do and I recommend taking the plunge and indulge in a fat porky love affair. Plump, juicy layers of fat wrapped around the meat that once it’s cooked it becomes a tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth extravaganza….. defo on the edge of piggy porn.
Chomping down big helpings of Chairman Mao’s red braised pork belly four nights a week, you`re probably gonna give yourself a heart attack ultimately. But, realistically, fat is where the flavour is, if you throw it out, you may as well eat your shoes and belt. It’s sort of like carving the soft parts out of the brie rind….where’s the pleasure good people???
Yes, yes, blah, blah, everything in moderation – standard disclaimer, but folks, venture gently out to that scary world of extra statins, blood thinners and health be damned!
The passage which one has to pass to reach porcine holy grail is undoubtably ensuring that the rind is super-duper dry. This is absolutely essential. If you have time or the inclination, you can amuse yourself at the same time – try setting up the process as a sort of pork spa…….I find it most entertaining to give my pork belly a name so that it easy to be familiar with, Alan is the present favourite, I find some Ayurveda music, fire up a few scented candles to eliminate the lardy scent and add some atmosphere.
Gently lay Alan, skin side up on the draining board in your galley, and pour boiling water over the rind – where the skin has been scored, it will all open up……a swine sauna if you like.
Next, thoroughly towel dry Alan (you can, if you really want, wrap a towel, turban style on your own head) and turn on the full force of your BaBlyiss 2100 super pro hairdryer to dry out the skin. Wave it rhythmically up and down the length of Alan, then pop him uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Before cooking, you will need to rub salt into the rind. Imagine Alan as somebody you are particularly fond of and who is demanding a lovely exfoliating massage. It might take time, but make sure that you get that salt all the way in.
Look for heritage breeds of pig like Berkshire or if you really want to bring the boat out, go on the internet and find Kurobuta. An Asian butcher will probably point you in the right direction, no one takes on pork belly as the Asians.
Roast stuffed Pork Belly
3 kg whole piece of pork belly – a wide piece that makes it easier to roll
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 large red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red chilli, deseeded, diced 200g feta, crumbled
60g fresh white breadcrumbs grated zest of 1 large lemon
30g semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped large handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped 40g butter, melted
Preheat oven to 240C fan. Place pork belly skin side down on a board. Using a very sharp knife, carefully remove and reserve the flap of belly that sits over the rib bones, then remove and reserve the ribs. Turn belly over, short side towards you, and then score it widthways, 1 cm apart, across the skin.
Make the stuffing……in a frying pan, soften the onion in the oil over a low heat, then remove to a bowl to cool. Finely chop 250g of the reserved belly flap meat in a food processor. Add to the bowl of onion along with the remaining stuffing ingredients and some seasoning. Set aside.
Place 30cm lengths of string at 2cm intervals across a large board. Lay the pork on top, skin side down, so the string is running the same way as the scored lines. Spoon the stuffing lengthways down the middle of the pork belly, heaping it up into a cylindrical shape, then bring the sides of the belly up and around the stuffing so that they meet tightly. Tie tightly with string and weigh to calculate cooking time (25 minutes per 450g. plus 20 minutes). Turn the rolled pork belly over and rub the sea salt into the skin, making sure that it gets right into the score lines.
Place the ribs in an oiled roasting tray and place pork on top with the join underneath. Roast for 20 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin, then turn the oven temperature down to 180C fan and roast for the remainder of your calculated cooking time.
When the pork is cooked – a metal skewer inserted into the centre of the meat should be hot at the tip, remove from the oven and rest on a board, uncovered for 20 minutes. Carve into slices……serve with crispy crushed potatoes and fennel salad. Thank you Wilbur…..
Crispy five-spice Sriracha Pork Belly
3 tablespoons Chinese five spice 3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce 5 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5kg piece boneless pork belly, skin scored 3 tablespoons runny honey
Mix together the five-spice, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the sriracha and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Rub really well into the meat, but not the skin and leave to marinated overnight.
Heat the oven to 180C fan and sit the pork skin side up on a wire rack in a roasting tine and roast for 2 and a half hours.
While the pork is roasting, pop the remaining 2 tablespoons sriracha, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and honey in a small saucepan together and bubble for a few minutes until syrupy.
Remove the pork from the oven and cool for 15 minutes while you turn up the oven to 220C fan. Then using tongs and a sharp knife, cut the crackling away from the pork. Score the exposed fat and sit in another tin. Sprinkle sea salt over the crackling and put back on the wire rack. Roast the meat and crackling alongside each other for 30 minutes, brushing the pork fat with some of the glaze for the final 5 minutes until the pork is really charred and sticky and the crackling really crisp. Smash the crackling into pieces and eat with thinly sliced or shredded pork and the remaining glaze.
Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Black pudding Mash and Grain Mustard Sauce
1.5kg pork belly
2 onions, finely diced 200ml good ale 500ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard 1 tablespoon English mustard
Brine 200g salt
150g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns 2 cloves
1 bay leaf
a sprig of thyme Mash
4 large potatoes 100ml milk
100ml double cream 100g butter
200g black pudding, diced
Bring all the brine ingredients with 1 litre of water up to the oil and make sure all the sugar and salt has dissolved. Let the bring go cold. Put the pork belly into a plastic container or ceramic dish and pour over the brine. Put a lid on and pop into the fridge for 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 150C fan. Put the pork belly onto a rack then on to a baking tray. Pat dry with paper towel and roast in the oven for 2 and a half hours – 3 hours until crisp and golden Give it a blast of heat at the end if you need to help the crackling.
Whilst the pork is cooking, bake the potatoes until cooked. Scoop all the potato from the skin and put it through a potato ricer. Bring milk, cream and butter to the boil and add it to the spuds to get a creamy consistency. In a pan, fry the black pudding with a little oil until crisp then fold into the mash.
Season and keep warm.
Fry the onions until soft, add the ale and reduce down to a glaze over a high heat. Add the chicken stock and reduce down again until a sauce consistency. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the two mustards. Serve with the pork and mash. Lovely little piece of fatty heaven.
Enjoy, dear Islanders…
Galley Goddess xoxo