Wednesday 8 June 2011

Roast Belly of Pork

When I first moved to the UK I didn't eat much meat at all! I just wasn't a great fan of the taste, especially lamb and pork. I couldn't go near the stuff! When I was young my mum used to do roast lamb as a treat for my brothers (they loved it!) and I remember having to hold my nose, because even the smell made me feel weird! I also remember going to parties where they used to have burgers from McDonald's or, even better, Goodies (the Greek equivalent) and I couldn't eat the burgers, even though I loved the idea of them! What a strange child I was...

So when I came to the UK and met my meat-eating boyfriend (now husband) it took a few years of training me to start eating meat again. I first conquered my 'fear' of beef, then lamb (shanks braised slowly, served with mint sauce) and finally pork. Pork was the hardest, but I remember going to taste of London in 2008 and trying the spit roast middle of pork from Le Cafe Anglais and the infamous Pigs Trotters dish at the Trinity stand. I fell in love with it! So much so, that now if I order meat at a restaurant, it will, most frequently, be pork!

I love cooking pork belly (and its a cheap cut, so its good on your wallet too). It took a few goes to get it right, but I think I 've now got there. I always ask the butcher to score it for me, as I never used to have sharp enough knives - though that is no longer a problem. It really helps with getting good crackling! Of course getting decent quality meat also helps. Lets support our local butchers! :)

Serves 4

1 kilo of pork belly
2 onions
1 tbs of dried fennel seeds
2 tbs clear honey
2 tbs soy sauce

Preheat the oven at 180 (fan oven) and season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Rub in the fennel seeds on the fat side of the pork - make sure they go between the scores of the skin. Chop the onions in half and put them in a baking tray, then place the belly of pork on top (fat side up). Put in the oven for 30 minutes, then take the temperature down to 150 and cook for a further hour. Then take out of the oven and remove the crackling from the rest of the pork. Put the crackling aside. Mix the soy sauce with the honey and drizzle over the pork belly. Put back in the oven for a further 20-30 minutes. Once you remove from the oven, let the belly rest and return the crackling to the oven at 200 for another 20 minutes. That should give you a beautifully crispy and light crackling. Carve the pork, smash the crackling in shards and serve with boiled potatoes and greens/salad.

I really do hope this works for you, because it works for me every time and is delicious. Don't forget to put the glazed onions on the side of the plate too. As we say in Greece: Kali Oreksi! 

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