Roast pork belly August 15, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Pork.
Roast pork belly is one of those deceptive things: absurdly simple to make, yet it is delicious and feels somewhat indulgent to eat. There are many methods used to roast pork belly but they all centre around one key element: chuck the pork belly in the oven and leave it for a few hours. I roughly followed Fergus Henderson’s recipe for roast (brined) pork belly from Nose to Tail Eating – but was not organised enough to brine the belly so proceeded with an unbrined belly.
While you can slice through the skin yourself using a Stanley knife, you can also ask your butcher to score it for you. I’d recommend doing it at least once by yourself, just to feel how thick the skin is! I chopped up an onion and lay that on the bottom of the roasting tin, and put the belly on top, skin side up. On the top of the skin I added salt, pepper, fennel seeds and mustard seeds – I rubbed the mixture into the skin as much as I could.
I then left this in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, and at this time set about preparing the accompanying vegetables. I decided to make some polenta to act as a base for the belly and a medley of zucchini, eggplant, parsley and mushrooms. I wanted the accompaniments to be quite plain as the belly itself would be quite rich, so the only extra flavouring I added was to add some vinegar into the polenta.
By this time, the belly was almost done. I turned on the grill and moved the belly to a higher rack in the oven so that the skin would crisp up. I sat by the oven to watch the skin puff up and spit! Here’s how it looked once the skin was crispy.
While the belly was resting, I made some applesauce to go along with it. I’ve been watching a lot of Iron Chef lately (the original Japanese series) and decided it was time to try a circle mould…. of course not having an *actual* circle mould I had to use a cookie cutter flipped upside down to serve as my mould. I put down a few spoonfuls of polenta, then added the veggies in their mould, a spoonful of apple sauce and finally, the pork belly.
Pork belly is something I am pretty much guaranteed to like no matter how it is prepared but I must say that I do enjoy it when it’s roasted! The skin was so crackly and crunchy, and the meat underneath was very soft and almost falling apart. The vegetables and polenta provided a good contrast with the belly and the polenta was particularly nice with the added vinegar. While a simple dish to make, the inherent richness and flavour contained within the pork belly make this a perfect comfort meal for winter.