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Crispy crackled pork belly with fennel & apple slaw served on a decorative plate

Crispy crackled pork belly with fennel & apple slaw

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • plus overnight chilling
  • More effort
  • Serves 4-6

Roast the perfect pork belly with melt-in-the-mouth meat and crunchy crackling, then serve with our herby sauce and fresh slaw

  • Gluten-free
Nutrition: Per serving (6)
NutrientUnit
kcal670
fat54g
saturates15g
carbs4g
sugars4g
fibre3g
protein41g
salt2.8g
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 40g flaky sea salt
  • 1.5kg boneless pork belly

For the slaw

  • 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 fennel bulbs, finely sliced, reserve the fronds to serve (optional)
  • 2 small eating apples, thinly sliced (Braeburns work well)

For the mojo verde

  • 1 large garlic clove
  • large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 80-100ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Method

  • STEP 1

    Using a pestle and mortar, crush together the fennel seeds, coriander seeds and chilli flakes, then mix the spices into the salt. Put the pork belly in a roasting tin and slash lines across the skin (about 5mm apart) using a sharp knife. Rub the skin with most of the salt mix, and chill, uncovered, overnight.

  • STEP 2

    The next day, heat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Remove the pork from the fridge and scrape off the salt mix. Pat well with kitchen paper to remove the moisture, then re-season with the remaining salt mix. Roast for 2 hrs, then reduce the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and cook for a further 1 hr. Turn the oven up to its highest for 15-20 mins or until crackled. If your pork still hasn’t crackled enough, heat the grill to its highest setting. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and grill for 4-5 mins (watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn). Cover and rest for 30 mins.

  • STEP 3

    To make the slaw, mix together the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, chilli and some seasoning in a large bowl. Toss the with the shallot, fennel and apple. Top with the fennel fronds, if you like.

  • STEP 4

    Whizz together all the ingredients for the mojo verde and season to taste. Slice and serve the pork with the slaw and
    mojo verde on the side. Any leftover pork can be warmed and piled into crusty rolls with the slaw and mojo verde.

What is the difference between pork belly and bacon?

These can often be confused, but the biggest difference is that pork belly is a fresh joint of meat that isn’t smoked or cured. It’s a thick, fleshy cut from the belly of the pig. While bacon can also come from the belly (as well as from the back), bacon has been cured and sometimes smoked.

Tips for making crispy pork belly

  • If you have time, start the recipe a day ahead so the pork can be dry-brined with lemon juice and salt for 24 hrs. While this step isn’t essential, it will help you achieve really crisp crackling.
  • Make sure to place the pork belly skin-side up during cooking. This allows the the fat to render down into the meat while cooking, making it more tender and succulent, and also allows the skin to crisp up.
  • It’s important to heat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 9 so the pork gets a good blast of heat at the beginning of cooking. It gets a second blast of high heat towards the end of cooking. Both of these stages are important for really crisp skin.

Why is my pork belly skin not crispy?

There are several reasons why you might not be getting perfectly crisp crackling.

  1. Not enough salt: use the full amount specified in the recipe to cover the pork belly rind when dry-brining, as this is what causes the crackling to puff up and become crisp – it happens when the salt reacts with the fat. You can mix it with some oil to help it coat the pork if needed. Rub it into the skin really well, including into the scored grooves.
  2. The skin isn’t dry enough: make sure to pat the pork completely dry before rubbing in the salt, as excess moisture will stop it from crisping up.
  3. The skin isn’t scored: this is an important step if you want the crackling to be really crisp. You’ll need a sharp knife for this, or ask your butcher to do it for you.
  4. The oven temperature is too low: insufficient heat will make it hard for the skin to crisp up. Make sure to take the pork out of the fridge 30 mins before you cook it, so that the meat reaches room temperature first. A high starting temperature (240C/220C fan/gas 9, in this case) is essential. We recommend turning the oven on about 10-15 mins (depending on your oven) before you’re ready to start cooking.

Why do I need to add bicarbonate of soda to the poaching water?

Bicarbonate of soda helps tenderise the meat without changing the flavour. If you haven’t got any to hand, you can leave it out.

What can I use instead of sherry or dry vermouth?

If you want an alcohol-free alternative, you can replace the sherry with the same quantity of apple juice or stock. If you don’t mind using alcohol, you could use cider or white wine.

Can I leave out the chilli?

You can leave out the chilli flakes if you prefer or replace them with a teaspoon of fennel seeds.

What should I serve with the pork belly?

This goes brilliantly with any roast dinner sides, like roast potatoes, creamy mash that will soak up the juices, or a big bowl of greens. Roasted squash or sweet potatoes would also work well. For a casual party, slice the pork and stuff it into buns or sourdough rolls with apple sauce or caramelised onions.

Can I make this in advance?

For best results, cook this on the day you plan to serve it. However, you can reheat any leftovers, but the skin won’t be as crisp. To reheat, heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the leftover pork in a roasting tin with a little water or stock, cover the tin tightly with a large piece of foil and cook for about 30-40 mins or until piping hot all the way through. Rest for 10 mins before serving.

Individual portions can be reheated with a splash of water or stock, either in the microwave or a lidded saucepan.

Can I freeze leftovers?

Leftovers will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and use cold, or reheat until piping hot using the above instructions.

What can I do with pork belly leftovers?

Shred leftover meat and pile it into buns with homemade tangy cabbage slaw, relish and pickles for a gourmet pork bun, or use it as the filling for our Mexican pulled pork tacos or pork and black bean tacos.

You can also add it to a bean chilli. Try it in our double bean and roasted pepper chilli or burnt aubergine veggie chilli – add it near the end of the cooking time and make sure it’s thoroughly heated through.

Or, add it to a stir fry, like our spicy Singapore noodles, or any of your favourite soups. Try using it in place of the chicken in our easy noodle soup or shredding it into our summer carrot, tarragon and white bean soup.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, June 2021

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