How to make perfect pork belly
Find out how to get that super-succulent pork belly with crunchy crackling you've always dreamed of. Roasting tins at the ready, here are Good Food's top tips.
It's the ultimate combination of crispy skin and juicy meat that puts this dish at the top of the roasting tree. Pork belly is a treat few turn down, so why not try making this meaty masterpiece at home? This dish will captivate carnivores everywhere and make your Sunday roast an extra special affair.
To the butcher
It's easiest to ask a butcher for help and advice with boning, trimming, slicing, scoring, rolling and tying. If the recipe calls for the skin to be scored, pork belly has particularly tough skin, so you'll need a sharp knife to get the right cut. If you're unsure, your butcher will be happy to score the meat for you and save you the hassle. This is also a relatively cheap cut of meat so it's perfect for budget-friendly Sunday roasts. If you are paying for the bones and the butchers bone the belly for you, it's worth asking to take the pork ribs home, as they are great for stock.
Now that your meat is scored, get ready to season. You can either go for a classic salted skin, or create your own spice paste. If you're opting for salt, rub the skin with olive oil and scatter with a generous helping of sea salt. This will help the fat run out and the skin to gain its famous crispy texture.
If you're going for a spice paste, try the fennel, peppercorn, garlic and thyme combo from our slow-roast rolled belly pork. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, why not try our bourbon-glazed pork belly chunks for a grown-up, sweet whiskey marinade.
Some recipes also recommend leaving the meat uncovered in the fridge for a few hours, in order to dry out the skin and let the meat take on the flavours of your chosen seasoning. If you have more time, marinating the meat for a few hours, or even overnight if you're making ahead of time, will always give a greater depth of flavour.
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To the oven
Depending on the recipe, your pork will need either hours or days to prepare for the dinner table. Our crisp, cider-braised pork belly recipe for example, calls for cooking the day before, and pan frying for a final crispy flourish. Once it's ready for the oven, the first step is a slow and low heat.
The secret to cooking belly pork is the combination of a gentle heat to tenderise the meat and short, high temperature blasts to crisp up the skin on the outside. Typically, recipes call for around 2 hours at 180C/ fan 160C, then a further 30 mins or so at 200C/ fan 180C.
The pork will be ready when the juices run clear and the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. If your skin hasn't crisped up in the way you want, try putting the joint under a hot grill for a few minutes - but remember to keep an eye on it to avoid burning.
Always allow your meat to rest before serving as this provides a juicier, more succulent mouthful.
Ready to serve
Once you're ready to dazzle your guests, assemble a supporting cast of veggies. Our slow-roasted pork belly & chicory cooks the veg along with the meat for a flavoursome cooking combination. Why not try serving with our bay-infused potatoes? Or, if you're a stickler for mash, why not try these creamy combinations:
Looking for more ravishing roasts? Check out our collection for more inspiration.
If you'd like a step-by-step guide, check out our 'How to roast pork belly' video.
How do you roast pork belly? Let us know in the comments below...