dairy free egg free nut free
We all love crackling (vegetarians/vegans look away). But it is rarely accompanied by a moist, tender roast pork meat. Dry and a bit bland, I end up suffering through it. (Unless of course it's porchetta served in a crusty bread roll from a roadside stall in Italy...)
I first saw Rick Stein make this dish, and I probably won't ever serve up a roast pork any other way. Pork belly - slow cooked so the meat underneath is tender and melting away, with crisp and crunchy crackling that never fails. Hallelujah.
Beware though - it's rich. Pork belly boasts a considerable amount of fat (hence the moistness) but for a once-in-a-while dish (as roast pork should be), it's worth it. I think you could also experiment with the seasonings (I might try rosemary & sage next).
Rick Stein originally served this with plain rice and steamed Asian greens, but because it's spring and the sun is finally shining, I opted for an Italian twist on coleslaw. Baby fennel, savoy cabbage and Pink Lady apple, all finely sliced and tossed with lemon, olive oil and parsley.
Oh my. Marriage made in heaven!
Crispy Roast Pork Belly
1 x 1.5kg piece of thick belly pork with the rind
1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper*
1 teaspoon black pepper*
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons caster sugar
Spike the skin of the pork with a fine skewer le as many times as you can, going through into the fat but not so deep that you go into the flesh. Then pour a kettle full of boiling water over the skin, leave it to drain and then dry it off well.
In a small bowl, combine the peppers, sea salt, five spice powder and sugar.
Turn the pork flesh-side up on a tray and rub the flesh all over with the spice mixture. Set it aside somewhere cool to marinate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Turn the pork skin-side up and place it on a rack resting on top of a roasting tin of water. Roast the pork for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 180˚C and roast it for a further 2 hours, topping up the water in the roasting tin now and then when necessary.
Increase the oven temperature once more to 230˚C and continue to roast the pork for a further 15 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for 5-10 mins.
Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on a warmed platter.
*Rick Stein's recipe has the peppercorns whole and dry-fried in a pan, then ground in a spice grinder. I've adapted the recipe for the short-on-time cook - I suspect it doesn't make a huge difference to the final result.
Fennel & Apple Slaw
1/4 Savoy cabbage
3 baby fennel bulbs
1 Pink Lady apple
3 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
1/2 cup continental parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
lemon juice to taste
Finely slice the cabbage and fennel. Add fennel fronds and parsley and mix together well. Just before serving, halve and core the apples, then finely slice across, then into matchsticks. Add to cabbage and fennel, then dress salad with oil, salt and lemon juice, mixing well.