Roasted Pork Belly

2009 May/Jun

I love pork belly. In fact, I think bacon – which comes from cured and smoked pork belly.

Get a pork belly, 4 to 5 lbs, from your favourite butcher. Score the skin very fine with a good sharp knife and rub salt, ground fennel seed and thyme into the cuts and also into the opposite side 24 hours before you cook the belly. The salt penetrates the flesh to season the meat and draws a bit of excess moisture from the fat, which will help crisp, the skin. Store in the fridge, uncovered, until you are ready to cook.

To cook, place the belly on onions or potatoes cut in half to raise it off the roasting pan and then pop the belly into a pre-heated 500°F oven. Let the belly enjoy the hot oven for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature to 300°F. This gives the meat a good sizzle and helps develop the crackling.

As the oven temperature drops, the roast will slowly cook for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours. You will know it is ready when a skewer easily slides through the flesh and the skin is crispy yummy. Start checking after the first 2 hours.

Let the belly rest in a warm place, tented with foil, for at least 30 minutes after you remove it from the oven. The longer the resting time the better. I’ve been known to rest a roast for 2 hours. Resting allows the muscle fibers to relax and allows the roast to reach a uniform temperature. With proper resting you will get a moister and more tender piece of meat.

I like to take the fatty cooked onions or potatoes out from under the belly and purée them. A neat little condiment for the belly. Serves 4 to 6.