This recipe does have several steps in it, they are easy to do and when I cook my pork belly this way the crackling is just the best. It’s a make ahead recipe I start a day or two before I want to serve.
1.5kg (3.3lb) pork belly
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tbsp of fennel seeds (lightly toasted)
3-4 sprigs of rosemary, removed off stem, rough diced
1 tsp 5-spice powder
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Olive or coconut oil for brushing
In a smallish bowl add the garlic, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and 5-spice and mix well.
Make lengthwise scores on pork belly skin (the width of these scores should be the width you would like to cut for individual servings). Make sure that the scoring breaks the fat just touching the flesh underneath without cutting into it, and make sure the skin is cut to the end both sides.
With hot boiling water, pour over the shin to blanch it. You will notice the skin shrinking a wee bit and turning a little translucent. Pat completely dry.
Turn the pork over to the meat side up and make a couple of deep slashes across the flesh diagonally. This will help the marinade penetrate deeper into the flesh and assist in the rolling as well.
Rub the marinade well into the meat (underside) making sure you rub the marinade into the deep slashes created.
Place the pork belly in a roasting pan, cover and rest overnight in the fridge. This will assist in drying the meat a little.
The Slow Roasting
Remove pork from fridge and let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
While the meat is warming up pre-heat oven to 140 C (285 F)
Turn the pork meat side up and sprinkle the rosemary evenly over the meat. Cut several lengths of butchers string, about 5 for this size of roast. Roll tight the pork belly and tie with the string. I start towards the centre and work out to the ends.
Brush oil all over the outside of the roast and then rub with sea salt all over the skin. Don’t use too much salt. An even, light coating is what we are after.
Place the rolled pork on a rack in a roasting pan. Fill up with water just before it touches the pork (if you like me, do not have a proper size rack, I propped the pork up on several over-turned, oven-proof ramekins instead). Cover the entire pork with foil.
Slow roast for 3 hours, checking every hour to see if you need to refill the water. Pork juices will get collected in the water, and this could be use as a base for a beautiful gravy later.
After roasting, let it cool. Once cool, you can return it into the fridge uncovered to dry the skin further for a couple of hours (if you are serving this pork later, you can also keep it overnight, bring the pork out to room temperate and roast it 30 mins before serving your guests). If you don’t have the time, pat the skin dry again.
As for the remaining juices in the pan, you can keep it overnight or leave it in the pan to be re-used for the final crackling stage.
Pre-heat oven to 230 C (450 F). You may use the same roasting pan with the pan-juices. Add more water (as the hot oven will dry it out almost immediately).
Place pork on a rack, in the water bath.
Brush the skin evenly with oil. Sprinkle a light covering of sea salt on top.
Roast for exactly 30 mins in a the oven. Turn it after 20 mins, so skin get evenly crackled.
Let it rest 10 mins covered before cutting and serving. Drain the oil in the roasting pan and use the remaining juices to make a lovely gravy.