Now that January is over I assume that we have all given up on our diets and returned to a life of chips and after work drinks. Or, if you are one of the keen ones who hasn’t, please do because you are making the rest of us feel bad.
So in the spirit of celebrating the end of the most depressing month of the year, I figured what we all need is a good old fashioned roast dinner. However, I am a busy girl at the moment (turns out they actually expect you to do work when you’re a PhD student, weird isn’t it?!), so I have settled for providing you with my meat recipe of choice but will leave all the sides up to you. Also, I just don’t fancy getting into a debate about whether sprouts are still acceptable after Christmas (they obviously aren’t, what are you, some kind of crazy person?).
I love pork belly because it makes a nice roast for two people, doesn’t go all dry when you re-heat it and has the perfect meat-to-crackling ratio. People always complain about how fatty pork and crackling are but I actually find that with the long cooking time you really need a bit of fat so that you don’t end up eating something with the consistency of a plimsoll. In this recipe the onions and water essentially insulate the bottom of the pork so it stays nice and moist, whereas the crackling should end up lovely, golden and crisp. Separating the meat and crackling for the last part of the cooking process may seem a bit fiddly, but you need to rest the meat for a bit anyway. Really crackling can never be too crunchy. Although even with supermarket pork the skin generally comes pre-scored, I would still recommend making some additional cuts. I always go for some kind of cross-hatch pattern, that way the crackling cooks evenly and is easier to break up once it’s done. Should serve 2-3 people, depending on how greedy you are feeling.
1 piece of pork belly (800g=1kg)
2-3 medium onions
Salt & pepper
1. Slice the onions and use them to cover the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold your piece of pork. Pre-heat your oven to 170C (150C fan- assisted).
2. Rub the pork on all sides with salt and pepper.
3. If the pork hasn’t been scored properly use a sharp knife to make additional cuts. The knife needs to be sharp enough to pierce the skin but you do not want to cut into the actual meat part. Rub salt (ideally the flaky stuff) into the skin.
4. Pour about 1/3 inch of water into the dish, just enough to cover the onions and put the baking dish in the oven.
5. Cook for 2h 10 mins. Check every 30 mins or so and top up the water if the onions start to dry out. This will happen more quickly towards the end.
6. Cook for an additional 20 mins at 200C then remove from the oven and place the pork on a chopping board or in a dish.
7. Using a large knife slice off the crackling in one piece and place back in the baking dish, return to the oven for another 10 mins. Cover the pork with tin foil and leave to rest while the crackling is baking.
8. Remove crackling from oven and cut/break into smaller pieces. Serve pork with apple sauce, gravy and your choice of accompaniments.
9. Pork out.