Slow cooking always offers rewards, but there are few things that beat a slice of crispy pork belly. And when it’s served with vibrant herby, citrussy grains and crunchy pickled vegetables, what more could anyone want?
I love the idea of slow cooking on a barbecue – but time and weather sometimes don’t play ball, and as I don’t like to miss out I’ll happily pop this into the oven instead. So rain or shine, this recipe will give you a gorgeous smoky, crispy pork belly – and will deliver for you every time.
Prep 45 min
Cook 2 hour
For the pork
500g piece of pork belly (you can scale up the recipe)
3 tbsp Belazu Make It Taste Smoky paste
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp whole coriander seed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp fine salt
For the crackling
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the pickled vegetables
2 sticks celery
1 small white onion
2 tbsp Belazu Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100ml Belazu White Condimento of Modena (white balsamic vinegar)
For the grains
150g quinoa and bulgur wheat mix
550ml chicken stock
1 large lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
½ bunch mint, chopped
½ bunch parsley, chopped
¼ bunch tarragon, chopped
¼ bunch dill, chopped
Start by preparing your pork belly a day or so ahead if you can to dry out the skin. I do this by leaving it uncovered in the fridge for around 24 hours. Not to worry if you are tight for time and doing it on the day, but you may need to crisp up your crackling a little longer under the grill.
For the best crackling, score the skin before you put your pork into the fridge. Use a sharp knife, being careful not to cut too far into the fat. You can score however you like, straight lines or crosshatch, and 1-1.5 cm is a nice width between cuts. Pop the belly on to a roasting dish that can also go under a grill, and put into the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 150C fan (170C/gas 3). Make the marinade by mixing together the Make It Taste Smoky paste, honey, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and salt in a bowl, then spread the mix liberally over the pork belly meat – but not the skin, as I’m going to show you a trick for getting the crispiest crackling. This simply involves mixing the white wine vinegar with the bicarbonate – it will fizz a little – then rubbing the mix all over the pork skin and fat. Season liberally with salt.
Just before you put the pork into the oven, add 200ml of water to the bottom of the roasting tray, being careful not to get water on the pork skin. Roast for 2 hours then remove from the oven and crisp up the pork skin under a medium-heat grill. Keep an eye on the crackling as it puffs, carefully rotating the dish if you need to in order to crisp the skin all over. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a plate and slicing. Spoon any roasting juices over the pork after carving.
While the pork is cooking, make the pickled vegetables. Finely slice the carrot, cucumber, celery and onion, and dress with a pinch of salt, the olive oil and the white balsamic vinegar, which will add a rich sweet and sour effect. You want the vegetables to retain some crunch so aim for them to be well dressed rather than fully submerged in the pickling liquor.
You can also prepare the bulgur mix while the pork is in the oven. Put it into a saucepan with a pinch of salt, and pour over 550ml chicken stock. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on until the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat. Then mix in the zest and the juice of the lemon and orange, and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Finish by stirring through all of the chopped herbs – the aroma will make you want to eat it on the spot!
To serve, heap the grains on to a platter, arrange the sliced pork on top, and garnish with the pickled dressed vegetables. Scrape out anything remaining in the roasting tin into a small dish to use as a dipping sauce – it will be brimming with all the flavours of the marinade.
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