I've cooked a good few pork belly recipes. When braising, I use the slices but I also love using a whole piece, such as in this Dong Po Pork recipe. I was really hankering after a big lump of belly - it has been a while, after all - but I wanted to do something different with it. I've noticed a lot of my recipes are Oriental and I'm in the danger of being stuck in a food rut. So I plumped for something rather more British.
As I was rather hungover today, there was no choice as to what potato preparation we would be having with it. What could be more comforting than a big plateful of creamy mashed potato and a fatty piece of pork? This one tray recipe created a great sauce to have with the pork; it was deliciously apple-scented and the onion and garlic provided a great savoury background. I'm also really (pleasantly) surprised with how the crackling turned out. In the past I've never been able to get it to puff up as much, other times I've left it under the grill and it burned and even caught fire!
Slow-Roasted Pork Belly with Apples
Serves 4 (or 2 greedy girls)
1kg pork belly in one piece, skin scored
4 russet apples
1 head of garlic
1/2 bottle of white wine
250mls pork stock
Ensure the skin of your pork belly is very dry before you put it in the oven. Preheat the oven to full whack, rub oil and salt all over the skin of the belly and immediately put it in the oven. Roast for 30 mins, then turn down to 140 degrees. Remove the pork belly, pour the fat off and lay the pork belly on top of the onion, cut into segments. Scatter the unpeeled cloves of garlic around it, and pour in half a bottle of white wine into the tray. Make sure the wine only comes part way up the pork and doesn't touch the skin.
Roast at this temperature for 1.5 hours. Then cut the apples into segments and add to the tray and roast for a further hour. When it's done, remove from the oven and add the apple, onion and garlic mixture to a sieve over a bowl. Using a spoon, press, squeeze and squish the mixture and scrape off the bits that come through the sieve - this will make up the sauce.
Next, very carefully, put the pork belly under the grill. Keep an eye on it because it burns very easily. Grill until the skin puffs up. Remove and rest the meat.
For the sauce, heat up some butter and add plain flour to it to make a roux. Add the pork stock slowly, whisking it as you go along to avoid any lumps, then add the apple mixture and simmer until thick.
I served this with mustard mash and steamed savoy cabbage. I'm about to dive into the seconds...