My most wonderful mum and dad offered to have the big boys for a sleepover last night. They are off having a nanna and pa date day today, probably eating way too many treats and hopefully getting completely worn out so they’ll sleep like rocks tonight.
So that left us with just Peanut last night, and he is fairly easy, so I planned an indulgent, ‘grown up’ dinner for me and the hubs.
The menu? Pork belly + sour peach salad + individual chocolate tarts + drunken strawberries.
Now, I am obsessed with pork belly, but am *always* disappointed when I order it out. My sister makes THE BEST pork belly. Hands down. Since I’ve had hers, nothing else comes close. So I was a little fearful of making my own. I like to be good at stuff. If my pork belly wasn’t perfect, I was going to be very, very sad.
So I emailed her (O.M.G. she doesn’t have Facebook!) asking for her top tips. She took too long to get back to me, and by the time she did, my pork was in the oven already. Luckily, I had done everything pretty much right. Phew.
I wasn’t feeling very confident as I plated up the meal. It looked great. White, creamy meat and dark, crunchy crackling dotted with vivid red specks of chilli alongside a cheery green and orange salad. It smelled delicious. Juicy, meaty smells with hints of five spice and fish sauce. I was just worried it would end up like so many other disappointing restaurant meals – rubbery crackling and tough, boring meat.
I had nothing to fear. It was simply delightful. Flavoursome, crispy, fatty crackling over moist meat so tender you barely had to cut it. The hubs declared it the best pork he’d ever eaten. I ate so much I felt ill all night.
After some egotistical bragging and picture posting on Facebook last night, the recipe was demanded. The marinade I used was from delicious: simply the best. The method was a combination of the recipe, my own vague memories of how to cook pork belly, and my sister’s tips.
Best pork belly ever
For the marinade mix together three crushed garlic cloves, two tablespoons of light soy sauce, two tablespoons of olive oil, half a teaspoon of chilli flakes, one teaspoon of five spice and two teaspoons of sea salt.
Take a 1kg piece of pork belly and score the skin in a crisscross pattern. Put in on a rack over the sink, and pour a kettle full of boiling water over it. Dry well with paper towel and place it uncovered in the fridge to dry out for as long as you can.
Rub the marinade into the pork skin, cover, and refrigerate again for as long as possible.
Heat your oven to 250C (or even hotter if you can. My oven only goes to 250C.) Place the pork in a roasting pan on a rack. Use a roasting pan just bigger than the meat – the meat will shrink significantly during cooking. Pour chicken stock, or white wine, or just boiling water with a slurp of apple cider vinegar into the pan until it just covers the meat, but doesn’t go up to where the skin starts. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until the skin has darkened, bubbled up and gone crispy. Don’t worry if a few bits are still soft, we can fix that later.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160C and roast the meat for a further two hours – or more, if you have time. Top up the stock/wine/water if it evaporates. If, at the end of two hours, some parts of the skin are still soft, crank the heat back up to 250C to crisp them up.
Allow to rest for a few minutes, thickly slice, and enjoy your pork-induced stupor. Mmmmmmmmm.
Public service announcement: This recipe is not diet-friendly or very nice to your arteries. Please eat in moderation. It will, however, put you in hubby’s good books for quite a long time. Especially if you follow up with chocolate tarts. And wine.