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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.
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