Enjoy - It's From Europe

Roast pork belly with crackling and apple sauce

  • Prep: 2hr
  • Cook: 7hr
  • Serves: 6

It might seem like a long recipe, but the effort involved in this dish is minimal and the taste is divine. It’s a real showstopper and an economical way to feed a crowd with something that feels special. After the pressing phase you can freeze the pork until you need it at which point simply defrost and continue with the roasting bit.

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 165c (fan).
  2. Roughly chop the onion, garlic and carrots and arrange them in the bottom of a large roasting tin. Scatter over the thyme (twigs and all) and bay. Lay the pork belly on top of the vegetables, with the side that had the skin on it facing down. You want the pork to sit flat in the tin and for the vegetables to act as a stand for the pork so it isn’t touching the bottom of the tin.
  3. Pour enough cold water around the pork so it reaches half way up the roasting tin. Cover the roasting tin with foil, nice and tight, and transfer to the oven. Cook for at least 5 hours, though you can leave it to cook overnight for 7-8 hours, in which case cook at 155c (fan) instead.
  4. Removed from the oven, uncover and lift the pork belly out of the juices onto a baking tray lined with parchment. The meat will have shrunk to almost half its original weight. Leave to cool then place another sheet of parchment over the pork and sit a baking tray on top. Pop a few weights on the top tray (baked bean tins are ideal) then transfer the whole thing to the fridge for at least 12 hours, but up to 24. This presses the pork and means it can be sliced and roasted without falling apart.
  5. The juices in the braising tin are worth keeping. It’s optional, but I highly recommend skimming the fat off the top of the juices, sieving to remove the veg and boiling the juice until it reduces to a thick sauce – scant but delicious - which you can reheat and pour over the roasted pork just before serving.
  6. While the pork is pressing, make the crackling and the sauce. For the sauce, simply peel and core the apples then cook slowly in a sauce pan with the thyme leaves until the apples disintegrate. Set aside until needed.
  7. For the crackling, pre-heat the oven to 210c (fan). Pat the pork skin dry with kitchen paper (if you’ve time and space, lay the skin in the fridge, uncovered, for a day to really dry out). Cut into 1cm wide strips (scissors are best for this). Arrange the strips, skin side up, on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes – the skin will curl up, blister and turn golden brown. Remove and set aside until needed.
  8. All of the above can be done well in advance so all you have to do when you’re ready to serve is....
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 210c (fan), remove the pork from the fridge and slice it into 6 pieces. Roast for 15 minutes until golden brown and piping hot throughout. Transfer to a dish and pour over the warmed braising juices if you’ve done this stage. Serve with the crackling and apple sauce.

Ingredients

All to be sourced organic where possible

  • For the pork:
  • 2kg piece of pork belly (skin removed – but kept, see below – and rib bones in)
  • ½ onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • Small bunch thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • For the sauce:
  • 6 apples
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
  • For the crackling:
  • Skin from pork belly
  • Flakey sea salt
Kathy Slack

Kathy Slack

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