Recipe from Waitrose Magazine. March 2019
It’s nice to have a roast dinner on a Sunday. We often do a roast chicken but I thought it would be nice to try my hand at pork belly on a day when we had lots of free time to do it properly.
Difficulty rating- 2/5, time consuming but really simple.
1x mixing bowl
1x roasting tin
For how many people? 4
Total time taken (according to the recipe)- 3 hours 5 minutes plus curing (2 hours) and resting (20 minutes) so really 5 hours 25 minutes.
Total time taken by me- 2 hours 55 minutes plus curing (1 hour 45 minutes) and resting (20 minutes) so really 5 hours.
Hands-on time (according to the recipe)- 10 minutes
Hands-on time taken by me (including ingredients prep)- 10 minutes
Oven time (according to the recipe)- 2 hours 55 minutes
Oven time taken by me- 2 hours 45 minutes
I started making this slightly later than intended, so knew I wouldn’t be able to brine the pork for the full time specified in the recipe from the outset. Nevertheless, I mixed the salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl then rubbed it all over the pork, washed my hands thoroughly then covered the bowl with cling film and left it at room temperature for an hour and forty five minutes.
After the pork had brined, I turned the oven to 150°c to preheat and boiled the kettle. I used a colander to rinse the brining mixture off the pork, then dried it really thoroughly with kitchen paper and placed it, skin side up, in a roasting tin. The skin on my pork belly was already scored, but I went over it again with a knife to just make sure it was done properly and sprinkled salt generously on the top. The kettle had boiled, so I made up 500ml of chicken stock and poured it into the base of the roasting tin, before placing it in the heated oven.
After two and a half hours I poured the chicken stock off the pork belly into our fat separating gravy jug and turned the oven up to 220°c. The crackling already seemed to have crisped up well by this point, but as it was my first time cooking a pork belly I chose to trust the recipe and put it back in the oven. Fortunately I was keeping an eye on it and noticed the crackling was beginning to burn after about ten minutes, so I removed it from the oven at this point.
I placed the pork belly on a board and covered it with tin foil for twenty minutes and used the pork juices and chicken stock to make a gravy. Instead of just reducing the liquid, I used it to make a roux based gravy as we were serving the pork as a classic roast dinner and used a few drops of gravy browning to darken the colour of the sauce.
We served it with roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage, Yorkshire puddings and rice (my husband grew up having rice with roast dinners and were continuing that tradition!)
Any cheats or changes?
I changed the sauce because of how we were going to serve the pork.
Any extra tips?
Keep an eye on the pork while it’s in the oven, if the crackling starts to catch either remove it or, if the meat isn’t cooked yet, cover it with tin foil.
Anything you’d change for next time?
I’d keep a closer eye on the pork in the oven, it was a shame to lose about a quarter of such fantastic crackling.
If I made the juices/stock into a gravy again, I’d add up to an extra 500ml of chicken stock at that point, as there wasn’t really enough gravy for the four of us eating.
Serving Size- We used a slightly smaller cut- 700g instead of 900g- and it did serve 4 people, but with no spares. A 900g cut would serve 4 people with good appetites.
It was pretty much the perfect pork belly, apart from the small area of crackling that had caught. The meat was moist and well seasoned and the crackling was perfectly crispy.
Any comments from other people?
My guests were really pleased there was such crispy crackling with the pork.
My husband says “tender, moist pork and very tasty gravy!”
Verdict– 4.5/5, I couldn’t give it a 5 because the crackling caught and we’ve checked our oven temperature recently so know it is accurate, a note in the recipe to keep an eye on the pork during that stage at the higher heat would have been useful.