During my recent trip home to Australia, I noticed Pork Belly on many restaurant menus. It is an inexpensive part of pork and because of the fat content, it allows for roasting slowly on a low heat without drying out. When cooked correctly, you should have melt in your mouth, fall apart juicy pork meat and crispy pork skin, or crackling as it is often known. Achieving good crackling isn’t difficult, but you must ensure the skin is dried well before you rub it with olive oil and salt. Accomapanying this with apple sauce today reminded me of the traditional roast pork my mother would always cook for our Christmas Eve dinner, and the competition with my sister and brothers for the best pieces of crackling.
Some recipes require the meat to braise in stock or white wine whereas this recipe requires the pork belly to brine overnight. Either method is important to ensure moist, tender and juicy meat.
for the brine:
- 1200mls water
- 165g salt
- 170g brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (whole)
- 4 cloves
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 teaspoons thyme (fresh if possible)
- 1.5kg piece of pork belly
- Olive Oil
- Rock Salt
- In a saucepan, add all the ingredients for the pork brine. Heat until sugar and salt has dissolved. Allow to cool completely.
- Score the pork skin with a sharp knife in 1-2cm intervals. Place the pork belly, skin side up in a glass baking dish, ladel the brine around the pork belly being careful not to wet the skin. Place in refrigerator to chill overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 220°C. Remove the pork from brine (you won’t need to use the brining liquid anymore so you can throw it away). Rub the pork skin with olive oil and salt, and place in a baking dish skin side up. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven to 170°C and cook for a further 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Increase oven temperature to 200°C and cook for a further 20 minutes. This finishes off the ‘crackling’. I actually moved the oven tray up a little higher for this final 20 minutes.
- Rest the pork for 20-30 minutes before serving.
- Although you may find complicated recipes for apple sauce with quite a few ingredients, I just use Granny Smith apples and a little water. You don’t need to add sugar and if you’d like your apple sauce to be a little more tart, you can add zest and juice of 1 lemon. Estimate one apple per person.
- Peel and core apples, and cut into equal size pieces. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the bottom of the saucepan. Cook apples until they are soft and mash with a fork. Serve warm with pork.