A Belly Full of Pork

A Belly Full of Pork

A Belly Full of Pork

A Belly full of Pork

I am a big fan of the revival of home cooking, that long lost skill so many people “don’t have time for” anymore. I’m also well aware of how much things cost nowadays, which is a lot of money and the quality, well let’s just say sometimes it’s average depending on where you shop.

So, when I see celebrity chefs on tv touting their wears, talking about how to cook cheaply and healthily I raise my glass to them.
Finally, everyday recipes that we all can cook without the fuss and bother of having to put foam on top or a swirl at the side.

I’m talking about normal food, everyday eating that tastes good, looks good and doesn't cost a fortune.
I’m also talking about the revival of “lesser” cuts of meat, the cheaper forgotten ones, like beef silverside, pushed aside by the more prestigious, and more expensive, cuts.

To make it simple, the “lesser” cuts need a long cooking time to make them more palatable, they can’t just be shown the heat, slapped on a plate and eaten. 
I’m a hypocrite because I’m lazy and I’ll complain about the preparation and cooking time for something like silverside but I’ll happily spend time trimming, tying and basting a fresh piece of game that can take just as long. 

My family is from the North of England and I grew up on these cheaper cuts cooked in various ways. Despite the amount of time it takes to cook them, once they are finished they are the real food I remember as a child. “Haute Cuisine” it isn’t but “to die for” it is.

The other day I was in my local supermarket, or supermarché, as they say in these parts and in the meat section I noticed that pork was on sale. On closer inspection I found a cache of pork belly at supremely cheap prices. So I bought it, not all of it, but a lot of it. Never cooked it before but the deal was so good I had to.

Talk about budget cuts, pork belly, doesn’t sound appealing but has definitely been resurrected recently on the telly so I thought I’d give it a go.
I hate fat, don’t eat crackling on roast pork so how this was going to work for me I didn’t know but in for a penny!

After researching recipes I made my own variation, as you do. I cut some of the fat away especially since there were “teets” on the belly and I couldn’t face eating them. Yeah I’m a chef but hey we all have things we don't like!

The resulting dish was only to be described as incredible. The fat had gone (into the water underneath then thrown away) and the meat that was left was so tender and flavoursome it was hard not to go back for 3rds and 4ths.
I served it with a simple green salad from the garden but it would work equally well with vegetables and potatoes. Incredible and so easy to prepare and cook!

The recipe is below if you want to give it a go. 
No more labour intensive than most other roasts and for 5€ or $7 (that’s what it cost) it would easily have fed 4.


Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Rosemary, Fennel and Caramelized Apples

1.5kg piece of pork belly
3 tbsp fennel seeds - crushed
2 tbsp rosemary – chopped
sea salt and olive oil

For the Caramelised Apples:
4 apples – peeled, cored and cut into wedges
20g butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup Calvados 

The Mix: 

Prepare the pork by snipping any hairs off the skin and patting dry with kitchen towel.
With a sharp knife score the skin in a crisscross pattern to a depth of about 10mm (about ½ inch). 
Mix the fennel and rosemary together and rub onto the skin making sure that you get lots of the rub into the crisscross grooves – if you have time, put the pork in the fridge for a few hours, if not continue with cooking.
Before cooking put the pork in a roasting tray, rub the skin with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pour about ½ inch of water into the baking tray (this will stop the fat from burning)
Place in the centre of a hot oven (220c, 200c fan assisted, Gas 7) and cook for 20 minutes until the skin starts to bubble and go crispy. 
Turn down oven to 180c, 160c fan assisted, gas 4 and cook for a further 1h 45min
You will need to carefully add water from time to time as it will evaporate.
After that time turn the oven back up to 220c, 200c fan, gas 7 and let the pork cook for a further 15 minutes. This will finish crisping the skin.
Take the pork out and leave to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Caramelised Apples:
Pour the sugar into a frying pan on a medium heat and cook without stirring until the sugar turns a golden brown colour.
Move away from the heat and add the Calvados. This will bubble and spit so be careful.
Flame the Calvados to burn the alcohol then add the butter. Stir well pan and move back to the heat.
Add the apples, coat with the liquid and cook for a further 8-10 minutes stirring from time to time.

Serve with the tender, succulent pork roast and a crispy green side salad

Drink This: 

Côtes du Rhone from France - What's not to like?

Cotes du Rhone


Di, next time we visit this has to be on your menu. Sounds terrific, especially the part 'it was hard not to go back for 3rds and 4ths'. Looking forward to trying it soon.


di's picture

Thanks Pete - i'll put it on the list for next time for sure!

We came back last Friday week, however no servings of port belly?

di's picture

No, but you did get the lemon loaf!

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