|Pork belly #1 of 2|
I love cooking roast pork for my friends. It's easy (the butcher, and then the oven, do all the work), and everyone goes gaga for crackling. So when we had 2 big parties for Christmas on the same day, I thought pork belly would be the perfect option. (It's the ingredient of 2010, don't you know?) It's also cheaper than my beloved pork shoulder, and easier to carve.
I was tossing up between 2 recipes - Donna Hay's sage-roasted pork belly (from her Seasons book), and Nigella's roast pork belly from Kitchen. In the end, I chose Donna's recipe, with some slight adaptations, because the picture was amazing, and it produced a slab of crackly, piggy goodness, as opposed to the shredded pieces of pork from Nigella's recipe. Another good thing about Donna's recipe was that it could be cooked the day before, with only a 30-minute quick blast in the oven to crisp it up before serving. (Let's be clear, Donna's recipe didn't actually specify that - I just figured you'd be able to do it, similar to the poached-then-blasted method of Nigella's soft and crispy duck from How to Eat).
So, I bought 2 pork bellies, and got my butcher to score the rind. The night before the party, I put them each in a tray with some unpeeled garlic cloves, and sprinkled sea salt liberally over the skin. (Donna tells you to cook it skin-side down for the first part, but I couldn't see how that wouldn't give the crackling a sloppy kiss of death).
And into the oven they went, at 160C for 3 hours. Whilst the oven was doing its thing, we, well, cleaned up the house and kept cooking and baking other things. If you were making this in the normal run of things (i.e. not for an epic day of entertaining), you could sit and relax while it's cooking.
This is what they looked like after the 3 hours. It's amazing how much it shrank. I'm hoping that was fat melting off, and not just water!
So from there, I let them cool down and stashed them in the fridge, ready for the next day of parties. For each party, I'd chuck a pork belly in the oven as people were arriving. 30 minutes at a hot-hot-hot temperature. (Donna's recipe says 180C for 30 minutes, but again, I have no idea how the crackling would get crispy at such a low temperature.) You're also supposed to add a bunch of sage to the pan for the final roast, but in the hustle-and-bustle of the day I completely forgot! I might just have to make this again with the sage, just to compare the taste, you do understand.
|Pork belly #2 of 2|
It was so super-crispy! Don't believe me? Check out this video we took!
If we hadn't have had guests, I would have totally had that slab all to myself!
And here it is, all chopped up siew yoke style so we could all have a piece.
Mmm.. I'm totally craving pork belly again!