Posh Pork: My slow-roasted pork belly.
Succulent meat that falls apart by just looking at it. A salty and crunchy crackling. An aromatic sweet sauce, with a hint of good ale that is what it takes to turn any Sunday great. My slow-roasted pork belly is as easy as making toast – it just takes a little longer. So, while you enjoy a relaxed morning – or a hard-earned evening wait with excitement as your kitchen and your house will fill with the aromatic scent that only a good roast can bring.
This post is out of the ordinary, wrong date – wrong picture. That is because it was unexpected. With unexpected I don’t mean that it just fell out of thin air, because pork bellies don’t have a reputation to be spontaneous materializers. Instead, this dish required some pre-planning, purchasing, dry marinating, wiping, and hours of roasting in a tiny oven. So, judging by the amount of pre-thought I put into it, it might be considered anything but unexpected. It was unexpected in how it made its way on the blog. Because while I planned to feature this dish some time in the future, I didn’t not plan on doing it now -the first time I made it. But when it came out of the oven, steaming and sizzling I was so pleased that I decided to screw the rules I had imposed on myself and just go for it. Luckily I did snap a couple of pictures from our lunch-table, unfortunately most of them came out badly. So instead of the whole dish with roasted potatoes, and an outstanding gravy, all you get is a thick slice of fatty pork. Succulent, crispy, salty and intensely delicious.
It all comes down to the meat, I believe. For this dish I used a nice, relatively thin cut of pork belly from our local, organic butcher. The meat is a little more expensive, but once you open the little brown paperbag it comes in, you will notice the difference. Good meat has a scent, an almost spicy quality. The fat should be white, and somewhat smooth. My butcher removed the slightly tough outer layer of skin, so that we were left with the bare fat – that’s a matter of preference I suppose (his, not mine – might I add- they just sell it like this, and I’m not smart enough to ask questions). The roasting of the meat itself couldn’t be easier, all it takes is a little salt and the cutting of some onions. The meat requires a little bit of supervision for the first hour, but for the last 2.5 it will just do its thing without needing as much as a single thought of you. So other than having to be at home (or not even that if you trust your oven) your work for the day is done.
My slow-roasted pork
Per person plan for about 400 g of pork, 33cl of ale, and one onion. Depending on the eater – expect some left-overs. Allow for about 3 hours of roasting and half an hour of rest. As for the left-over fat: store it over night in your fridge and use it for extra flavour when you fry, or as a spread.
- Organic pork-belly
- Fresh Garlic
- A bottle of strong pale Ale ( I used a nice Belgian Duvel)
- Chicken stock
- The night before your big feast score the lard with a very sharp knife, leaving deep, diamond shaped cuts. Make sure that you do not cut all the way to the flesh – leave a little fatty shield. Generously salt the meat from all sides, rub the salt it. Crush some fresh pepper and rub into the meat – do not apply to the lard. Wrap in cling-film and allow to rest in the fridge over night.
- Using a tea-towel, pat dry the lard.
- Chop the onions and the apple and place in the bottom of a baking tray, where you can stuff holes and crevices of the meat with little garlic cloves, scatter a hand full of garlic on the tray. Place the pork on top.
- Pop into a hot oven (about 220°C will do) – for about 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure that the fat turns sizzling hot and deeply brown. Shift the tray so that the pork browns evenly.
- Cover with aluminate foil or parchment paper and bake at 140°C for about 2-2.5 hours.
- For the last half hour remove the cover, baste the crackling with salt-water for the most glorious crackling.
- Leave the meat to rest for about half an hour.
- Remove all excess fat from the baking tray and retain for future cooking, or as a spread.
- Pour half of the ale into the tray, and scrape off all residual. Transfer to a sauce pan, add the remaining ale and allow to simmer. Add a bit of chicken stock, and using a handheld blender create a smooth sauce. If it should be too runny, let reduce – if it is too thick add some more ale or chicken stock.
- Serve the meat with the sauce, and maybe have some green beans or roasted potatoes with it.