It’s Pork Belly, not porky belly, but that’s what you end up with if you eat too much of this. This is the complete opposite of the lovely zingy oil-free salad I last posted up. To be honest, it’s a little deviation from my usual diet too, and something I have never cooked before. It was made in honour of my brother, who was threatening not to come to lunch, but after watching him order it every time he saw it on a menu, I knew that as soon as he got the SMS saying “making porky belly n tiramisu – coming or not?” he’d be a cert.Pork Belly is a super fatty cut of meat – it’s cheap to buy ($20 for my 1.8kg cut, which fed seven), and easy to cook. It’s the same cut that makes streaky bacon, pancetta, and side bacon. The fat keeps it moist, so it’s almost impossible to muck it up – the only tricky part is the crackling, and… well, that’s not really tricky at all (it’s just about heat and salt).
- pork belly (200-300g per person, depending on appetite and meatiness of cut)
- salt (more than you would think sensible) and pepper
- dried herbs (I used rosemary)
- vegetables for roasting (I used sweet potato, purple carrots, Spanish onions and pink lady apples studded with a couple of cloves)
- flour, water, fresh thyme and a splash of wine for the gravy.
- Put your oven on full, then score the rind and fat through almost to the meat with a sharp knife, then salt heavily, rubbing into the cracks, and then underneath on the meaty side. Season meaty side with dried herbs and pepper too, then place in a roasting pan skin-side up.
- Put in the oven and roast on full for about half an hour, or until you can see the fat bubbling and crisping up a bit, then turn down to 180°C (350°F) and roast for a further hour and a half to two hours, depending on the size (2 hours for anything over about 1.6kg).
- Add vegetables at various stages, depending on cooking requirements, laying on the same pan under the pork so they can roast in the drippings (I added the sweet potato and onions one hour in, and the apples and carrots half an hour after that)
- When scoring, if it is difficult to get through the rind in places, try folding the meat so you can get at it more easily on the curved edge. A finely serrated knife may also help. Think about how you will cut it once it’s cooked – it will be so crispy when it comes out that you will want to follow the lines of the scoring, otherwise the crackling will splinter all over the place.
- When you think you have put enough salt on, put some more on just in case. For more tips on crackling, read this post.
- Let the meat rest for ten minutes before serving (covered). This is just enough time to make the gravy and get everything to the table.
- DO NOT eat this more than once a month. It is seriously bad for you…. But total avoidance of all those bad things that taste so good is also not recommended for your spirit! Tell yourself it’s gluten free….
Making the gravy:
- Remove roast meat and veggies from oven, and place on serving dishes, and retain the pan including all the oil, crusty bits and juices.
- Set the pan on the stove top on a medium-high heat with other gravy ingredients at hand.
- First throw in the fresh thyme and fry for a moment, then deglaze pan with a small splash of wine (I used Pinot Noir), allowing it to bubble and steam off furiously for about half a minute. (you can skip the wine if you like)
- Sprinkle flour (about a tablespoon for one jug of gravy), and use the back of a fork to scrape it all over the bottom of the pan for about minute, squishing lumps and getting it into all the juices.
- Add water (about 1/2 cup to start), and furiously mix with the fork, again, flattening lumps and adding more water as it thickens until it has appeared to stabilize and is at a good consistency.
- season if necessary. If you’ve been a bit slack with the fork you might have to whiz it with a hand blender.