- 1½ kg bone-out pork belly
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…
- 3 tsp fennel seeds
A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
For the stuffing
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- ½ fennel bulb, hard core cut out and discarded, the rest finely chopped
Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate – its strong aniseed…
- ½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
The small, creamy brown seeds of the coriander plant give dishes a warm, aromatic and slightly…
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250g minced pork shoulder
- 1 slice sourdough bread, torn into small pieces
Sourdough is a method of leavening bread, based on uncooked bread dough (known as 'mother…
- 25g toasted pine nuts
- grated zest 1 unwaxed orange
One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…
- 3 dried apricots, finely chopped
A relative of the peach, nectarine, plum and cherry, apricots are fragrant, with a soft, velvety…
- 3 sage leaves, finely chopped
- ½ tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- freshly grated nutmeg
One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury…
- 1 egg, beaten
The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…
Score the pork belly skin with a sharp knife in a cross pattern. Score down to just before where the skin meets the fat, rather than the fat itself. Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and add the bicarbonate of soda. Lower the pork into the water, poach gently for 5 mins, then remove it from the water and leave to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a dry frying pan over a high heat for 1-2 mins, then tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Grind the spices in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar, then mix with 1 tbsp fine sea salt.
Once the pork has cooled, turn it skin-side down and pierce the underside of the meat all over with a knife. Rub the meat with the spiced salt rub, cover and put it in the fridge for at least 8 hrs or overnight. Can be prepared 24 hours ahead.
The next day, make your stuffing. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the onion and fennel. Season and cook gently over a low heat for 10 mins. Add the coriander seeds and garlic, and cook for another 2 mins, then add the mince. Cook for 8-10 mins until the mince is browned. Set aside and leave to cool.
Transfer the mince and onion mix to a bowl and add the sourdough, pine nuts, orange zest, apricots, herbs, lemon juice and nutmeg. Season well, then mix together thoroughly with your hands. Add the egg and mix again.
Lie the pork belly on a board, skin-side down. Form the stuffing into a sausage shape running all the way down the middle of the belly. Wrap the sides of the belly around the stuffing and tie with butcher’s string. Place seam-side down in a roasting tin, uncovered, and chill for at least 2 hrs, preferably overnight. You want the skin to dry out completely so that it crisps up when you roast it.
To cook the pork, remove it from the fridge and leave it for at least 1 hr to come to room temperature before you cook it. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4 and cook the pork for about 2 hrs, turning the tin every 30 mins or so. After 2 hrs, turn the heat up to 220C/ 200C fan/gas 7 and cook for another 20 mins. When the pork is done, a thermometer pushed into its centre should read 77C. If the skin looks in danger of burning, cover it with foil – but only do this once it has crackled.
Once the pork has cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 30 mins. When you’re ready to carve, put the pork on a big chopping board. Using a sharp knife, slice the meat into rounds.
To transportThis dinner party main is ideal for transporting to someone else's house, as it is delicious served hot or at room temperature. If you want to reheat it, cut off the crackling and set aside, then slice the pork into chunky pieces and put in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with a little water, then cover the dish tightly with foil. Cook in the oven at 160C/ 140C fan/gas 3 for 15-20 mins. Re-crisp the crackling under the grill.