A good diet is a varied diet. There are so many things you can eat as long is you don’t eat some of it too regularly and not too much of some of it. With pork I am always doubting how it fit’s into a healthy diet. Yes, there is lean pork, but I tend to go for the bacon-variety of pork. As does the next dish. This recipe I have for you most definitely does not fall into the lean pork category… But I’ve only made it once, and that was during the holidays. So we indulged ourselves and I have hardly eaten any fatty pork since. Starting to think of it, it’s about high time to get me some…
So I have been wanting to post this recipe since Christmas, no kidding! I just didn’t get around to it. Prepare for this showstopper: Oven roasted pork belly. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. We had never made anything like this before so we took kind of a risk, my mother and I did, picking this for our Christmas dinner. After seeing it being cooked on Australian Masterchef several times I just had to try this myself. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. We bought a kilo of pork and it took us 2 to 2,5 hours to prepare. There is not much cooking involved, just some preparation and then lot’s of oven time.
Let’s cut to the chase: It worked out fabulously! Of course, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have posted it on this blog… Or at least would not have featured it like this. We were happy, family was happy, and we were all extremely stuffed ;-). And no pork belly leftovers. I am thinking I am not waiting for Christmas 2015 to try this again. Remember a healthy diet is a varied diet no…
The ingredients are straightforward:
- Nice piece of pork belly from you local butcher
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- A couple of bay leaves
- Some cloves of garlic
Put on a kettle and bring some water to the boil. Put your pork belly on a rack over the sink. Once the water boils, pour it over the pork. Why yo ask ? By scalding the pork skin, you’ll help the skin crisp up into crunchy crackling.
Then start working on cutting the fatty top. I made a simple pattern as you can see. My mum actually ran upstairs for a sharp stanley knife because our kitchen knife could hardly cut through the fat. So get out your sharpest knife and carefully cut incisions on the top. Only cut the fat, that is the white part, do not cut into the rest of the pork.
Now we give it a good rub with a mixture of freshly ground salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I used rosemary and thyme straight from the garden. Remove the herbs from their stalks, chop these up roughly, and use your hands to rub the mixture onto the pork.
Place the pork on a roasting tray and into an oven of 150 degrees Celsius. Underneath the pork place an oventray filled with water, bay leaves and the garlic gloves. No need to peel or cut the cloves.
There is really nothing to do here now but to open that bottle of wine and start on your pre-dinner cheese platter or something of the sort. We had it in the oven for two hours (1 kilo of pork) so if your piece is slightly bigger or smaller it probably needs a bit longer or shorter! We checked if it was nicely done, then gave it another 15 to 20 minutes under the grill, to create a nice crust.
Do not leave it under the grill too , as things burn too easily under the grill and that would be such a shame!
Take it out, have a taste to check if it’s soft, tender and tasty and, then, well, it’s done!
Serve with side dishes of your choice. We went for an Italian dinner, so my mum had made fresh gnochi, and my additions were panzanella (an Italian bread salad), Caprese salad (Mozzarella cheese baby!) and a fresh orange and fennel salad. And that was our Christmas main meal for you!
* Yes there’s a CD in the first photo, that’s what my mother used to cut the gnochi!