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For the pork belly:
Click here to see Chef Cathal Armstrong's Brine recipe
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Remove the belly from the brine, rinse it completely and blot it dry on paper towels. Keep the belly in one piece. Discard the brine.
Trim the belly so that it is a perfect rectangle. Cut the trimmings into 2-inch pieces. Place the trimmings, garlic, onions, carrots, leeks, thyme and rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and peppercorns in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the belly on top of the vegetables. Pour the demi-glace over it. Wrap the pan with foil and bake until fork tender, about for 3 ½ hours, basting with pan juices every half-hour.
Remove the foil, increase the heat to 400° F and roast the belly 30 more minutes, basting after 20 minutes. Allow the belly to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, the cooking liquid and a layer of fat will have congealed around the belly. Transfer the belly to a cutting board. Remove the layer of congealed fat and save it for another use. Heat the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the vegetables, herbs and spices. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve it, making sure that all the fat has been skimmed off. Cut the pork belly into 6 perfect 8-ounce squares, reserving all the trimmings.
For the apples:
Cook sugar and water for 5 minutes. Peel, core, and slice apples; cooking a few at a time until tender, adding a little more water when necessary. Pour sugar syrup over cooked apples and set aside.
Click here for Chef Cathal Armstrong's sous-vide apples
For the cabbage:
In a spice grinder, finely grind the allspice, juniper berries and peppercorns and set aside. In a large casserole over medium heat, sauté the bacon until it is light brown and fat has rendered from it, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine. Cook until the onions are tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until the cabbage begins to break apart, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Check seasoning for salt. Add 6 bay leaves. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the cabbage and cut a 1-inch hole from the center of it. Place the parchment over the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour. Keep the cabbage warm until ready to use.
For the sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Sauté the bacon in the oil until it begins to brown and some caramelization has started in the bottom of the pan. Add the leeks, onions and carrots.
Using a wooden spatula, stir the vegetables, scraping brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Let the vegtables cook for several minutes. Add the vinegar and scrape some more. Let the vinegar reduce for 5 minutes. Add the demi-glace, bay leaves and enough braising liquid to flavor the sauce but not render it too salty, up to 1 cup. Let the sauce simmer, but not boil, for 10 minutes, skimming impurities and fat from the surface every couple of minutes.
Add the thyme and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and apple peelings. Cook the sauce until it begins to be viscous and slightly syrupy. Remember to keep skimming the sauce throughout the process. (Total cooking time will be about an hour.) Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer 8 times. Keep warm until ready to finish the dish. (Yield: about a quart)
For finishing the pork:
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers. Place the belly pieces top side down in the pan and brown for 2 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 2 minutes. Then brown them on each of their 4 sides. Continue turning the pieces over and over on every side every couple of minutes, basting them with the fat that renders from them. Cook the pieces until they are brown, crispy and warm in the center, about 15 minutes total. Just before serving the pork, add a teaspoon of chopped garlic and a teaspoon of chopped thyme to the pan and baste the belly pieces with the flavored fat.
For finishing the cabbage:
Right before serving, stir in 4 ounces of softened butter into the cabbage and a teaspoon of chopped thyme. Adjust seasoning.
For finishing the sauce:
Finish the sauce: In a small sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté 4 tablespoons of chopped shallots in 1 teaspoon of butter until the shallots soften, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Stir in 6 ounces of strained sauce and then stir in another teaspoon of butter. Remove from heat. (Freeze the rest of the sauce base.)
Assemble the dishes: Divide the cabbage evenly among 6 large, warm dinner plates. Top with pork belly. Place 3 apple batons around each belly. Drizzle some sauce over and around the belly pieces. Sprinkle the pork with micro greens and serve immediately.
Recipe: Chef Michael Olson’s Double Roasted Pork Belly
Hands down my favourite cut of pork is the belly simply salted and roasted for hours, there is no better flavour that a crispy bite of crunchy roasted pork belly. While gastropubs and fine-dining restaurants are saucing it up or serving it sous-vide, I prefer a traditionally roasted salty piece of pork roast.
I had the pleasure of talking pork with Chef Michael Olson at Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. He told me he roasts his pork belly twice to get a good crunch to the meat, using a two-day prep method to rest and roast a simple and economical piece of meat that is easy to prepare – you just need some time. Perfect for a weekend when you’re hanging around the house – the smell of slow-cooking pork belly will fill your home with an incredible smell. You can’t rush good pork belly – sit back, relax and savour.
While I have a hard time getting the meat onto the plate (my sister and I actually start picking at the crackling while it is still hot in the roasting pan), Chef Olson has included a spicy salad wrap recipe to serve crunchy slices of this roasted pork belly.
Pork belly is a simple cut but is not always easily available at your local grocery store. I picked up a lovely cut of pork belly from Irving Farms at Mother’s Market – visit a butcher or local farmer’s market to find a quality-locally sourced piece of pork belly perfect for roasting.
Chef Olson’s Double Roast Pork Belly
- Choose your fresh pork belly from a small independent butcher as the supermarkets do not usually carry this cut. The portion size does not have to be as much as other meats due to the high calorie content of the belly.
- 2.5 lb (1.2 kg) fresh meaty pork belly
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) table salt
- 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
Using a sharp kitchen or Exacto knife, score the skin of the pork belly, just into the fat but not through to the meat.
2. Make the cuts every 1/4-inch across the surface of the skin side.
3. Blend together the salt and baking powder and rub into the scored skin of the belly. Place the meat into a baking dish and set in the refrigerator overnight uncovered. Leaving the belly exposed to the air will help dry out the skin.
1. Preheat oven to 325F and allow meat to sit on counter to lose its chill.
2. Roast the belly for 90 minutes then lower the temperature to 300F. Continue cooking for 45 minutes. You do not need to baste during cooking as the fat needs to come out of the skin in order to change the texture. When done, the meat will be fully cooked, the skin should be light gold in colour and there will be a lot of rendered fat in the cooking pan.
3. Remove the belly from the oven and allow to cool on the counter for 45 minutes or longer. While the meat is still warm, drain the fat off (you will get about 1/2 cup and if you dare, use it in biscuits or baked beans).
4. To reheat, turn the oven up to 450F or as hot as your oven will go. Return the roast to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the skin is deep gold in colour, slightly puffed and crunchy. (Try to avoid touching the skin as it will burn your fingers!)
To Dress for Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps
1/2 cup (125 mL) Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup (60 mL) Sriracha sauce
1 cup (250 mL) fresh cilantro leaves, washed and picked
1 cup (250 mL) English cucumbers, sliced
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, whole leaves separated
Diners can dress their own lettuce wraps. Brush the pork belly with hoisin, add a little Sriracha, cilantro, cucumber and a squeeze of lime. In place of the lettuce wraps you could use tortillas or light buns. Enjoy!
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Crispy roasted pork belly
This is one of those "How to win friends and influence people" recipes, an essential for your roast repertoire. And the good news is, achieving succulent meat and crispy pork crackling is surprisingly straightforward.
- 1 kg boneless pork belly
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced into 1cm rounds
- 1 lemon, sliced into 1cm rounds
Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Using a small sharp knife, score the pork skin at 1 cm intervals.
- Pat the skin dry with paper towel. Rub the salt and oil into the skin and incisions.
- Place the pork, skin-side down, on an oven tray and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220°C (425°F).
- Working quickly, arrange the onion and lemon on the oven tray next to the pork. Turn the pork over onto the onion and lemon. Roast for a further 20–30 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy and the meat is tender.
For the crunchiest pork crackling, be sure to thoroughly dry the skin. If you have the time, you can refrigerate the pork, uncovered, for 2 hours or overnight. This will let the skin dry out even further, before you oil and salt the rind.
This recipe is from Donna Hay: Basics to Brillance on SBS Food (Channel 33). Stream episodes via SBS On Demand.
Perfect roast pork belly
Try our perfect roast pork recipe with the best crackling then check out more pork belly recipes such as our roast pork for two. Pair your pork belly with our classic Yorkshire puddings and apple sauce, then also discover more roast dinner recipes.
The perfect pork belly is all about the contrast between crunchy, snappable strips of crackling, and delicately soft meat underneath. But how to get the former without overcooking and drying out the meat, or the latter without ending up with tough, chewy, unappealing skin? Follow these simple rules and you’ll be serving up flawless pork belly to an eager crowd.
How to make the perfect roast pork belly
1. Cracking the crackling
To get the perfect crackling, the skin needs to be as dry as possible. Keeping the joint in a cold, dry fridge overnight will help the drying process, and keeping it uncovered will ensure no condensation forms. Scoring the skin increases the surface area exposed to the heat of the oven, so that more of it crisps up, and not scoring too deeply prevents any meat juices from bubbling up and making the skin soggy.
2. Worth its salt
Salting the meat well before cooking does two things: it draws moisture from the surface, allowing salt to enter the meat and season it, along with any flavourings and the salt also affects the protein structure, which softens and tenderises the meat.
3. Matter of degrees
Bringing the meat to room temperature before roasting is important with a large piece of meat – it ensures even cooking throughout, preventing the outside from over-cooking and drying out before the inner meat is fully cooked.
4. High time
The blast of high heat at the start of roasting lifts the rind from the meat, moving it away from the moisture rich meat and keeping it dry for crackling to form.
5. Stick to the ribs
Roasting belly with the rib bones still intact protects some of the internal meat from the fierce heat of the oven. As the bones heat up they will gradually transmit heat to the meat inside. Along with the onions and celery on the bottom of the tray, the ribs also act as a trivet, propping up the meat and enabling heat to circulate underneath while also allowing the meat to braise in the cider and the crackling to roast.
6. Rest assured
Resting the pork belly will allow the juices to thicken and then redistribute within the meat, meaning they won’t all flood out when carved.
Higher-welfare pork will help ensure good crackling as it is likely to have been dry aged and have a lower water content.
- rib-in pork belly 2.5kg
- sea salt flakes 1½ tbsp
- thyme 10 sprigs, leaves picked
- black peppercorns crushed to make ¼ tsp
- vegetable oil a drizzle
- onions 2, thickly sliced
- celery 2 sticks, halved horizontally
- chicken stock 300ml
- dry cider 330ml bottle
- wholegrain mustard 1 tbsp
Put the pork belly in the fridge overnight, leaving the skin exposed to dry. The next day, use a sharp knife to score the skin in 1cm intervals, being careful not to go through to the meat. Mix together 1 tbsp of the sea salt, the thyme leaves and black pepper, and rub thoroughly onto the meat but not the skin. Chill, uncovered, for 1 hour, then remove from the fridge for another hour to come back to room temperature.
Crispy Roast Pork Belly (脆皮燒肉)
Both my hubby and father are big fans of crispy roast pork belly, sold from Hong Kong bake shops. So I decided to learn how to make some not long after I moved here. Lucky me, I know a couple who are very talented and have a passion in Cantonese cuisine. As they were afraid that they had to say goodbye to all their most favourite Hong Kong dishes after migrating to Australia, they nearly attended every culinary class taught by professional chefs, and learned all famous, traditional dishes, including roast pork belly (aka siu yuk, 脆皮燒肉).
The tricks of roasting pork belly with a perfect, crispy crackling are quite simple. I had a big success at the first attempt. The crackling and the moist, juicy pork meat were so good, just like those bought from shops. But after a few more tries, I stopped making any more. Why? Cleaning up a greasy and messy oven is not enjoyable at all. Frankly, it’s like a nightmare to me. A few aftermaths have put me off for many years since then.
Until recently, many of my friends started talking about and using convection ovens. Good reports from them after many tried. So I gathered all my courage and used my new kitchen toy – convection oven to roast pork belly again. The verdict: we’re satisfied with the end results. Best of all, the cleaning job is far less fussy.
By Christine's Recipes
Prep time: 30 min
Marinade time: 3 hrs - overnight
Cook time: 45 min
Yield: 3 serves
- 1.2 kg pork belly
- 1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine, optional
- to taste, rock salt
- 3½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
|For poking pork rind, as I don't have the special tool - The "Pig Sticker" shown on Adam Liaw's blog. |
Instead, I used several roasting needles and tied by a rubber band. Poke the rind with this DIY utensil.
|My new kitchen toy - Convection Oven|
- To prepare the seasonings: Combine salt with sugar and five-spice powder well. Set aside.
- Use a knife to scrape away any impurities and hair. Rinse thoroughly. Blanch in boiling water for about 15 minutes, until 60 to 70% done, and the skin is softened. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towels.. Use needles to poke the rind as many holes as possible. Turn over to other side, cut a few slits on the meat to help absorb seasonings better.
- Rub wine evenly on pork. Let rest for a while. Coat the meat with seasonings evenly. Make sure there‘s no seasonings on the rind, otherwise the five-spice powder will darken it.
- Wrap the pork meat with foil and leave the rind unwrapped. Place in fridge, let air dry overnight in fridge.
- Preheat oven to 200C/395F.
- Remove pork from fridge and remove foil. Let rest at room temperature for a while. Poke the rind with needles evenly once again. Wipe dry. Season the rind with rock salt. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes (Remark: I used convection oven. If ordinary oven used, bake for 45 minutes.) Increase temperature to 220C/430F, bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you get enough cracklings. (If ordinary oven used, move the pork from middle rack to upper. Grill the rind until evenly blistered and browned.)
|Fatty stuff released while roasting, caught by the foil at bottom. |
The juicy, moist pork meat turned to be much healthier.
- The tricks of making crispy cracklings: First, the rind must be very dry. (Remark: Some of my friends/fans tried brushing some vinegar, about 1 tablespoon, on the rind just before baking. It helps the rind dry up a bit more while baking.) Second, poke as many holes as possible. While grilling, the fat inside the rind turns really hot, then get released from the holes. That produces an effect of a kind of “frying” the rind. So, it turns crispy.
- Mind you, don’t poke too deep through the rind though. The rind won’t be crispy any more otherwise.
- Basically, the temperature is the same, no matter you use convection oven or ordinary one. But an ordinary oven needs longer cooking time.
- The cooking time depends on how thick and how big the pork belly is. Please adjust accordingly.
- I put double layers of foil at the bottom of my convection oven. After cooking , I just removed the foil and all oily stuff was gone. No fuss in cleaning up. “Big smile”
***If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #christinesrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
Don’t score skin for perfect crackling!
Yes, you read that right. Don’t score the skin, for the best crackling!
All your life, experts have been telling you that scoring pork skin is the trick to great crackling. I’ve heard explanations ranging from greater heat exposure to the need for fat to drip out and fry the skin. Well, all your life, these experts have had it wrong!
Firstly, I do believe that the fat bubbling out from under the skin helps to make the crackling crispy. This is true. But a light rub of oil does the same job. And literally, I mean 1/2 tsp for 1kg / 2lb of pork belly.
But secondly and frankly more importantly … People (home cooks, inexperienced butchers) botch the scoring all the time and this compromises the crackling. How? Well, the problem is if you cut through the skin and fat down into the flesh by mistake, even the tiniest prick can doom your crackling. This is because as the meat roasts, juices from the flesh will bubble up through that tiny hole and spread on to the pork skin. All that careful work to ensure dry skin is now wasted as the skin parts touched by those juices no longer can crisp and will end up rubbery! Even a small slash into the flesh can create a rubbery patch of 3 – 4cm / 1.5″+.
The takeaway: Don’t score! It’s not necessary and it’s RISKY!
- 1 bunch green onions - white parts chopped, green parts cut into 3 1/2-inch lengths
- 10 ounces whole pork belly
- salt to taste
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon ginger juice
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 whole dried red chile peppers
- ½ cup water
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil on a flat work surface. Lay 1/2 the green parts of the green onions down in the center of the foil. Place pork belly, fattiest-side down, on top of the green onions and top pork belly with remaining 1/2 the green parts of the green onions sprinkle with salt. Fold aluminum foil tightly around pork and green onions. Wrap pork belly again in another sheet of aluminum foil. Place wrapped pork, seam-side up, in a loaf pan.
Cook pork belly in preheated oven for 5 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven heat and let cool in the oven for 2 hours. Remove from oven and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight.
Remove pork from foil and discard green onions. Cut pork into 8 pieces.
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp all over, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
Whisk brown sugar, rice vinegar, fish sauce, ginger juice, and soy sauce together in a bowl.
Remove most of the fat from the skillet and discard. Add 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar glaze and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until pork is glazed on all sides and pieces are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Make a well in the center of the skillet and add chopped white parts of the green onion, garlic, and peppers. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour water and remaining brown sugar glaze into skillet simmer until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Crispy Pork Belly
Preheat oven to 240˚C. Pat the skin of the meat dry and season the flesh side with pepper and half the salt. Sprinkle the sage leaves on the bottom of a metal baking dish (do not use a glass or ceramic baking dish as it might shatter when you add the milk) and put the pork on top, skin side up. Season the top with the remaining salt.
Roast for 20-30 minutes at 240˚C until the skin is starting to blister and crackle. Watch closely for burning.
Pour the milk around the meat to come about half to two thirds of the way up the sides of the pork. Reduce the heat to 160˚C and roast for a further 1½ hours or until the meat is meltingly tender. Check the level of liquid during cooking and if it has evaporated add a little more to the pan.
Remove the pork from the oven, lift it out of the dish and allow it to cool. Discard the liquids (they will break into curds).
For easy cutting, place the meat flesh side up on a chopping board and use a heavy, sharp knife to cut it into slices about 3-4cm thick. Serve warm or at room temperature with Roasted Pepper Pesto, if desired.
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly recipe
For the sauce:
125 ml soy sauce
juice & 3 strips peeled rind of 1 large orange
45 ml soft brown sugar (like demerara/muscavado)
1 cup mutton/chicken stock
2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
6 cardamom pods
Preheat the oven to 230 C.
Brush a medium size roasting tin (just bigger than the belly roast) with oil and place the belly inside, skin side up. Salt the skin side generously. Roast the belly uncovered in the top half of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the skin side has puffed up and is golden brown (not too dark, as it still needs to spend a few hours in the oven.)
While the skin side is roasting, prepare the sauce: mix all the ingredients for the sauce together in a jug and set aside.
When the skin side of the belly is puffed up and golden, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 C. The belly would have shrunken a bit from the sides, but would have thickened in height, because of the heat. Pour the sauce all around the belly, taking care not to cover the crispy skin (if the sauce is too much, leave some for topping up the roasting dish later – it will evaporate quite a bit). Return the dish to the oven and continue to roast at 160 C for another 3 hours until the belly is very tender.
Remove the belly from the oven and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. Transfer the belly carefully to a cutting board and slice into portions with a sharp long-bladed serrated knife. Pour the pan juices into a small sauce jug.
Serve the belly with mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree, crisp pan-fried / steamed greens and a drizzle of pan sauce.
Top 3 tips for a really crunchy layer of crackling:
Pat the skin side of the belly dry with kitchen paper, then leave the belly uncovered in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to dry out.*
Score the belly with an NT cutter (it’s quite a heavy job, so ask your butcher to score it for you if you’re not sure about it) and salt it generously with salt flakes before roasting. Oil is not necessary, but you can brush it with a thin layer if you want to.
Always start on high heat (230 C) for about 30 minutes on a rack in the top half of the oven to crisp/puff up the crackling layer, then turn down the heat to cook the belly until it is tender. See more directions below for cooking.
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Recipe courtesy of The Food Fox. Visit the blog for more delicious recipes. Recipe copyright – Ilse van der Merwe.
This recipe doesn’t make a specific gravy, but you can find a guide to making gravy here , which will show you how to make gravy to go with any meal, whether from scratch or from your roast’s drippings.
If you’re looking for delicious and easy weekend/weeknight meals, here are some that are sure to please:
Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.