Monday, November 5, 2012

Twice cooked roast pork belly

There are dishes which you wish had a quick and easy version, or at least a way of getting the benefits of a long cook in a short time. Pork belly is one of those roasts that easily falls into that category, you want unctuous fall apart flesh and crisp salty crackling. There are a lot of shortcut methods that purport to achieve this miracle, but I have yet to find a one that doesn’t compromise some aspect of what should be a rather tasty bit of meat. As with anything worth doing, it should be done right, with a little forethought and planning you can spend a relatively short active time cooking to achieve perfect roasted pork belly.

Set your oven to 120–130ºC. Place the pork belly in an ovenproof dish, add herbs and some liquid, thyme and cider’s always nice, or a few juniper berries and bay leaves. Don't forget to season the meat. Cover the dish with a snug layer of tin foil. Cook for about 5 hours.

When time is up carefully remove the pork from the dish and set aside to rest. Get two dishes (I use a couple of rectangular oven dishes), ideally one will be slightly smaller, line the base with a piece of baking paper, place the pork in the dish and lay another piece of baking paper on the pork and then put the other dish on top, press down gently, you could weigh it down with some cans but I find wrapping it tightly in clingfilm does the trick and takes up less room in the fridge. Refrigerate overnight.

Ready to devour some porky goodness? Well not long now. Set the oven to 220ºC, I just crank mine up to full. Remove the pork from the fridge, score the skin side, portion it and season the skin side with salt. Get an ovenproof pan on a hot heat, and when almost smoking, place pork in the pan, skin side down. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15–20 minutes.

That’s about it, get it from the oven, don’t forget that pan handle is going to be hot! Transfer the pork a board, skin side up, let it rest for 5 minutes or so, and then greedily eat it all up. All and all, some delicious roasted pork belly took you 10–15 minutes of active cooking, and a whole lot of waiting, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth the wait.