For the past several years I have been looking at pork belly and wondering what it would taste like. It's one of the lesser expensive cuts that you can buy, and I had wondered was it any good? Would we like it? Would it cook away to nothing?
A pretty nondescript piece of meat, it looks like a big slab of bacon, unsmoked completely and with a thick layer of skin and fat covering the top of it, not to mention another layer of fat normally running through the centre of it . . .
I kept hearing such wonderful things about it, and so yesterday I finally caved in and bought a hunk.
The lovely thick layer of skin and fat on this particular cut of meat really helps to keep it moist as it cooks. The alchemy that occurs means that the pork skin slowly crisps to a wonderfully crisp layer of crackling whilst the fat in the layers, melts and dissolves, basting the meat constantly, giving you a moist and succulent roast underneath.
If you've been holding off from buying this particular cut of meat, hold off no longer. This truly is a hidden gem, and you'll find yourself wondering why on earth you waited so long!
And all for a mere £2.63. Who knew?
*Slow Roasted Pork Belly*
If you love succulent, rich meat with magnificently crunchy crackling, this tasty dish is for you. Cheap, easy and yet moreishly delicious! This will grab you by the socks!
1 kg piece of pork belly, with skin still on
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
Pre-heat the oven to 160*C/325*F. Lay the onions on the base of a fairly heavy baking dish. (You want one with an edge) Take your piece of pork and using a Stanley knife, score some deep heavy cuts all along the rind at 1/2 inch intervals, if it has not already been done for you by the butcher. Cut down through the skin and into the fat, but not all the way to the meat. Rub the skin with a little bit of olive oil and some sea salt, massaging it into the cracks. Season the pork flesh with a bit of salt and pepper. Place the pork on top of the onions, flesh side down and skin side up. The onions will act as sort of a trivet and keep the porl from touching the hot dish. Pour a bit of water into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom of it by about 1/4 inch. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, checking it every so often to see that the pan hasn't gone dry, and adding more water periodically. Don't let the water touch the crackling or the meat. At the end of that time you should have a succulent moist piece of meat and delightfylly crisp and crunchy crackling. If the crackling isn't as crisp as you would like, turn the oven up to about 200*C/400*F and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes to crisp it up a bit further. Don't worry, the water in the bottom of the pan will help to keep the pork from drying out.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Slice the crackling off the top and break into bits of crunchy delight and slice the meat with a sharp knife.
You can drain all the fat from the pan and serve with the juices and caramelized onions if you wish, but I just made a tasty pot of apple pear sauce to serve with mine.
*Apple Pear Sauce*
Makes about 3 cups
This sauce is so easy to make and goes so very well with pork chops and roast pork. It's also tasty in it's own right simply served warm with some vanilla ice cream, or with pancakes for breakfast!
4 cooking apples, peeled and chopped
3 pears, peeled and chopped
1 TBS lemon juice
4 ounces pressed apple juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the fruit is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and whip with a fork until the mixture is mashed but with some texture still remaining. Serve warm.