Sunday night dinners with friends is a great way to wind down the weekend, ending it in style, with good food and great company. Always happy to put on a meal for friends, we invited two of our nearest and dearest over for my first attempt at cooking pork belly. I’ll save you any of the lead-up – the climax was a combination of pure salty delicious crunch-worthy crackling complimented by the most tender and moist meat imaginable. So yeah you could say it went pretty well.
I was nervous about cooking pork belly, you have to get the crackling just right. I mean what’s pork belly without the crackling, it would be like Easter without the hot cross buns! Luckily for me, it turned out just right – I must admit I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I cut through the crackling and the kitchen resonated with a symphony of crunches and crackles. It was music to my stomach.
The syrupy suace that accompanys the pork is great, I love anything with star anise and this just worked so well. It was the right mix of flavours to complement the pork and didn’t overpower the flavour of the meat. Also, the simple salad accompanying this was fresh, light and had just the right amount of heat to really combine all elements on the plate into a well balanced and delicious meal.
Please please please try cooking pork belly, don’t be put off as I was, just remember to keep that oven temperature high in the beginning to allow for extreme drool inducing crackling! You’ll thank yourself for giving this one a go.
1.2kg boneless pork belly (skin on)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 star anise
1 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime, plus additional wedges for serving
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup Thai basil leaves
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Score pork belly at 1cm intervals. Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan skin side up, rub 2 tablespoons of salt into the skin then pour in enough water to fill the pan to just under the rack.
- Roast for 30 minutes or until skin is crispy, then reduce heat to 180°C and roast for a further hour or until the meat is tender, topping up water as necessary.
- Meanwhile, place the brown sugar, vinegar and star anise in a pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 – 6 minutes until reduced by half. Add the lime juice and continue to reduce for 3 – 4 minutes until syrupy.
- Carve the pork into four even pieces and arrange on a plate surrounded by the herbs and chilli, dressing lightly with the syrup. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the meat.
*Recipe sourced from delicious, more please