Here is a simple recipe to get the best out of some outdoor reared pork belly.
1.5kg/3 a quarter lb pork belly in one piece, rind on, well scored
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
Dressing 4 tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsps smoked paprika
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander
1 red chilli, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Pork belly (also known as lap of pork) is currently trendy in restaurants but tastes much better when cooked at home. It's easy on the budget and is often the only cut available rind-on from butchers and supermarkets, who now tend to sell everything without the skin -- so no delicious crackling. Belly of pork makes brilliant crackling (and lots of it), and much of the fat melts away during cooking to leave beautifully succulent meat. This is a spicy dish, but the joint is also delicious cooked plain (simply scored and rubbed with a little salt) to serve traditionally with gravy, apple sauce and seasonal vegetables.
1 Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Place the pork on a rack over a deep roasting tin, then pour half a kettle of boiling water over the rind. Discard the water and dry off the pork with kitchen paper -- this will help to give you really crisp crackling.
2Mix the smoked paprika and salt together. Spread it over the rind and meat. Place the pork back on the rack over the roasting tin and place in the hot oven for two hours, or until the meat is tender and the crackling is well browned and crisp. Potato wedges, seasoned with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and salt, can be cooked in the oven with the pork for the last half hour or so.
To make the dressing
Heat the olive oil, add the garlic and allow the garlic to just turn golden. Tip the oil and garlic into a food processor. Add the smoked paprika, scallions, coriander and chilli and whizz for a minute; taste for seasoning. Slice the pork thickly (remove the crackling for easy slicing) and serve with a spoonful of the dressing.
Lunch idea: Leftovers can make a great sandwich for lunch. Toss a mixture of grated carrot, bean sprouts and thinly sliced scallions with a little of the dressing and use with thinly sliced cold pork.
- Georgina Campbell