23/06/2013

Zero Effort Belly Pork

Zero Effort Belly Pork
Perfecting belly pork is one of those activities that ends up as a ridiculous set of processes verging on voodoo!

Some begin with room temperature meat, others, it must be chilled. Some pour boiling water over and pat dry, others sit the pork over a steam bath. Olive oil, others don't. Salt; again, others don't. Some begin with their oven at the highest it can be and lower immediately, others raise the heat at the end ...

Uuuuuuhhhh!!! Deep breath ... and relax ...

Let's just cut through all that and I'll show you how I do it - succulent meat, gorgeous fat and lovely cracking ... with almost no effort.

Keep Calm and Cook Paleo

Set your oven to 150C. That's 300F for the imperialists amongst us and Gas Mark 2 for the (British) old timers.

Take your pork out of the fridge, so no need to get it to room temperature. Don't fiddle with it other than to slash the skin (a Stanley knife blade is perfect here) and sprinkle a good amount sea salt over. No oil, please. Why? Oil does not cook well. That, and this cut of meat is so full of good fat that we don't need or want more ... why pollute the party?

Pop it into the oven on a wire rack over a tray. Pour about a pint of water into the tray - hot, or cold, it doesn't matter. The water will keep the oven "wet" so the pork doesn't dry out. I've tried this with and without the water, and I find the water works.


That, and you can pour off the juices easily enough into a jar to scrape off the good fats once cooled. Lard as a fringe benefit? Belly pork really is good!

Leave it for about 4 hours.

Veggies

Prepare your veggies and a nice jus.

I went with spring greens, which are coming to the end of season and Jersey Royal Potatoes, again, coming to the end of their short season.

My jus, simply leeks sautéed in butter, garlic added, some chicken stock and arrowroot to thicken. Strain off the solids prior to thickening.

Crackling

So, about ready to eat ... here's the crackling.

No fussy temperature adjustments, just flick the oven over to the grill/broiler.

Keep your eye on it! This will take little more than a couple of minutes and will burn if left too long, but watch it and retrieve the meat at the perfect moment. The skin will puff up and crackle. Oil actually suppresses this, hence my warning at the top about not oiling the skin. Salt does help the crackling, again, as advised above ... but it will disappear and fall off if you oil the skin.

Serve

So, collected from the oven, set it upside down, crackling side down while you plate up the veggies. This will allow the fats to run back into the joint.

It also makes cutting easier - slice through the fleshy part, then crack through the skin. Easy, eh?

Meat, fat, carbs and greens. Perfection!

10 comments :

  1. Woo! Link love on MDA ... thanks, Mark:
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/weekend-link-love-249/

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  2. OMG I am so making pork belly this week!

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  3. YUM! I have a pork belly, will def try this week!

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  4. Good stuff! Why not chuck in two pieces and try this out: http://www.livingintheiceage.co.uk/2013/04/belly-pork-stir-fry-redux.html

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  5. Amazing. Simple. Trying this tomorrow! The last time I made pork belly I ended up pulling out my paint stripping heat gun for the crackling lol, it worked but it wasn't pretty.

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  6. Thank you ... good luck.

    Good idea with the heat gun - in the end, that's all the grill/broiler is doing being a strong overhead heat source.

    The whole principle with this write-up was to take is straight back to basics, cutting through all the myth and method that has grown up around the perfect belly pork over the years. Cook it on medium for a few hours, then whack the heat up. C'est tout!

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  7. Have just sampled my first taste of pork belly - scrummy! I have never cooked this before and was v nervous about it. This was v simple and the only problem is I keep picking at it! Thank you for such a straight forward method. As an ex vegan, I find cooking meat daunting (especially larger pieces) and I am learning as I go. Definitely a hit.
    Nicky

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    1. Great! I'm glad it worked for you Nicky.

      Another really simple Belly Pork recipe is to cook it the day before(or use leftovers), then slice it up nice and thin, stir-fried with a chilli sauce.

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  8. i've only made pork belly a couple of times but always use your method!! it is so crunchy and tender at the same time. i used a smoked applewood sea salt on it today and it is just awesome.

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    1. Hi Joanna - I'm glad it play out for you. Thanks for the tip around flavoured salts. I'll try some smoked salt next time.

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