Recipe video above. This is a pork belly that's slow-roasted so the fat renders and cooks the belly confit-style in its own fat. The result? Ridiculously juicy, impossibly tender yet still-sliceable meat, crowned with the most amazing crispy crackling of your life. It comes down to three simple, game-changing techniques: 1. Do NOT score the skin; 2. Low heat followed by high heat; 3. Keep the pork level using balls of foil.Perfect meat, perfect crackling ... Every. Single. Time! (Read the post for all the details on how to do it right!)
Dry skin overnight: Place pork belly on a plate. Pat skin dry with paper towels. Leave uncovered in fridge overnight to dry out the skin. (If you don't have time, pat the skin dry as best you can).
Preheat oven to 140°C/285°F (120°C fan).
Season flesh: Drizzle flesh (only) with 1 tsp oil. Sprinkle over 1/2 tsp salt, the pepper and fennel powder. Rub all over the flesh, including on the sides, being sure you get right into all the cracks and crevices.
Wrap in foil: Place 2 pieces of foil on a work surface. Put the belly in middle of foil, skin side up. Fold the sides in to enclose the belly, forming an open box, pinching corners to seal tightly and make it as snug as possible. Place meat on a tray.
Season skin: Pat skin dry with paper towels. Rub with 1/2 tsp oil then sprinkle remaining 1/2 tsp salt evenly all over the skin surface, from edge to edge.
Slow roast 2 1/2 hours: Place in the oven and roast for 2 1/2 hours. After 1 1/2 hours, remove and tighten the foil (pork will have shrunk), and continue cooking. This keeps the pork fat level up as high as possible, and the flesh protected so it stays moist.
Increase heat: Remove pork from oven, then increase heat to 240°C/465°F (all oven types).
Level pork: Remove pork from foil and place on a rack set over a tray (using rack is best, but optional). Use scrunched up balls of foil stuffed under pork to prop up so the skin surface is as level and horizontal as possible (see photos in post).
30 minutes on high heat! Place the pork back in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating after 15 minutes as needed, until the crackling is deep golden, puffy and crispy all over. If some patches are browning faster, protect with foil patches.
Rest 10 minutes: Remove pork from oven. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serving: Slice into 2cm / ⅘"-thick slices using a serrated knife. Pictured in post with Apple Sauce and Vermouth Jus, with a side of Cauliflower Puree (Note 2)! See directions in post for how to plate it up as pictured (fine dining style!), as well as a list of more sauce options.
1. Pork Belly - It's best to get one that has not been vacuum-packed. Vac-packed means the skin has been soaking in juices for who-knows-how-long, and the crackling won't be as good (although we can still get it crispy using this recipe method!) If your belly is vac-packed, I really recommend doing the overnight drying uncovered in the fridge.Look for a piece with flat, even skin as wrinkly skin doesn't crackle as well (in the ridges, because heat can't get to it as well).Also, do NOT get one that is scored. It is a plain fact that you do NOT need to score for perfect crackling! All too often, butchers do poor scoring jobs and pierce through the fat into the flesh. Even the tiniest prick will cause meat juices to bubble up onto the skin and you'll end up with rubbery patches.See in post for further information on what to look for when purchasing your pork belly.2. Cauliflower Puree pictured in post is my Cauliflower Mash recipe which I pureed more thoroughly to make it as smooth as possible.3. Fennel powder - This is ground fennel seeds. Fennel is a classic pairing with pork. Fennel powder gives a subtle, floral, aniseed flavouring to the pork meat. You can grind your own powder: Grind 1 tsp of lightly toasted fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to yield 1/2 tsp fennel powder. If you don't have any fennel powder or seeds, you can leave it out.4. Storage and reheating - Pork belly keeps and reheats well. Keep for up to 3 - 5 days. To reheat, it's recommended you separate the crackling. Reheat meat in microwave, and crackling in a hot oven to retain crispiness. You can also slice and pan fry, or eat at room temperature on sandwiches or salads.5. Nutrition information - The calculation assumes all fat including discarded rendered out fat is counted. Real calorie values are lower! But this is not a diet food, to be sure 😉