Pork Belly – My Favourite Part of a Pig
Pork belly as a cut of meat may sound foreign at first, but once that belly has been cured and smoked, bacon (aka pork belly) is probably the most commonly consumed pork we eat.
If you’re like me, and you have a love affair with bacon, then your favourite part of the pig is most likely the belly. While bacon is easy enough for me to cook, it is not the only way to enjoy this boneless cut of fatty meat.
Recently I’ve seen pork belly making an appearance on the menu at lots of restaurants in the city. I was eager to recreate that perfect bite of meat, fat, and crackling, so I picked up a small slab of Berkshire pork belly from Irving Farms.
I typed ‘pork belly recipe’ into google and the first thing that came up was a recipe from Jamie Oliver. A fan of the simplicity behind the naked chef, and his eagerness to share recipes, I made his recipe even easier by substituting his vegetables with sweet potatoes and nixing the spices (because I forgot).
While the recipe takes a 2.5 hours – the steps to prepare and cook are simple and easy to follow.
Here is his advice:
The lovely thick layer of fat on this particular cut keeps the meat really moist as it roasts, and also gives you an incredible even layer of delicious crackling. Belly is a very underrated cut in the UK, but it is becoming a favorite on gastropub menus, and rightly so. If you’re worried about scoring the crackling yourself, ask your butcher to do it for you, that’s what he’s there for. (Jamie Oliver)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2.5 hours
- 3lb pork belly with skin
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups sliced potatoes
- 1 bulb garlic, skin on broken into cloves (optional)
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme (optional)
- preheat oven to 425°F
- Place your pork on a clean work surface, skin-side upwards. Get yourself a small sharp knife and make scores (slices) about a centimeter apart through the skin into the fat, but not so deep that you cut into the meat.
- Rub salt right into all the scores you’ve just made, pulling the skin apart a little if you have to. Brush any excess salt off the surface of the skin and turn it over. Season the underside of the meat with a little more salt and a little black pepper.
- Place your pork, skin side-up, in a roasting tray big enough to hold the pork and the vegetables, and place in the hot oven.
- Roast for about half an hour until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see it turning into crackling. Turn the heat down to 350°F and roast for another hour.
- Take out of the oven and baste with the fat in the bottom of the tray. Carefully lift the pork up and transfer to a chopping board.
- Add the potatoes (and spices if you want to use them) and stir them into the fat.
- Place the pork on top of everything and put the belly to roast for another hour. Carefully move the meat to a serving dish, cover with tin foil and leave to rest before serving.
When I made this the kitchen smelled amazing and I was too hungry to wait for the meat to rest. The crackling was salty-crunchy and the meat was delicious. Since the sweet potatoes were cooked in the rendered pork fat – they were sinfully good.
Thanks to this simple recipe – I know this is just the beginning of my adventures cooking pork belly.