Roast Belly of Pork with Fennel Seeds
Pork belly is criminally underrated. One of the few cuts of meat that can stand being roasted without risk of it drying out, it's tender, moist, and you get crackin' crackling with it. Despite all this, it's also one of the cheapest cuts that you can buy. Why? Because, it has a decent amount of fat on it, and, as we've all become fat-phobic, terrified of even a smidge of the glorious white stuff, pork belly all dressed up in its bountiful layers has been condemned to the food sin bin. But the fat in the belly keeps the meat moist while cooking, which means that you can leave it in the oven for a while before it needs any real intervention. Once it does come round to serving you will find that most of the fat will have melted away during cooking, leaving wonderfully tender and flavourful meat.
If you want crackling (who doesn't?!), score the pork skin with a very sharp knife (but not into the actual meat) and rub with a good pinch or two of salt. I've used Fennel seeds along with salt and pepper to season the pork, as the aniseed flavour works superbly well.
I have deliberatly not specifed precise quantities of ingredients, for example, how many potatoes you'll need is dependant on how many people your serving (and what else you're serving it with i.e veg).
Pork Belly (Approx 300-400g person)
Salt & Pepper - Good few pinches
Fennel Seeds - 1-2 Tablespoons
Onions, sliced, enough to create a 'bed' for the pork (roughly 2 or 3)
Potatoes, Peeled and cut into chunks, enough for everybody
- Preheat the oven to 220C / 200 C Fan / Gas Mark 7
- Slice the onions and put them in a roasting tin so that they make a bed for the pork to sit on. This will stop the underside of the pork from burning.
- Score the skin of the pork belly with a very sharp knife and rub in the salt and pepper.
- Scatter the fennel seeds over the pork.
- Peel and chop the potatoes into rough chunks and place around the pork.
- Place the belly into the oven and cook at 220C / 200 C Fan / Gas Mark 7 for 30 minutes.
- Turn down the oven to 170C / 150 C Fan / Gas Mark 3 and cook for about two or three hours. Check the pork every so often just to make sure that its ticking way nicely. You don't need to be too precise with cooking times as it is unlikely that the belly will dry out.
- The potatoes will probably be done half way through cooking, so take them out and keep warm for serving later.
- It is unlikely that the cracking will be done by the time it comes round to serving, so heat the grill and place the pork ( still in the roasting tin) under the grill. Keep a watchful eye so that it doesn't burn. Grill until the crackling has crackled.
- Serve with the potatoes, veg and gravy.