PORK BELLY IN BRINE WITH CRISPY CRACKLING
Serves 4, as part of a main course
Nothing beats a properly done pork belly. This recipe brines the meat, ensuring a really nice flavour and crispy crackling. You can either do this in the oven or try it on the BBQ for a delicious meal on those long, bright summer nights.
1 kg Pork Belly, skin on
30 g Sea Salt Flakes
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
250 ml Water
Score the skin of the pork belly in slices or squares. Be careful not to cut into the meat.
Place the pork belly in a non-reactive, deep-sided roasting dish. Rub the salt into the meat on both sides and leave for 30 minutes. Turn the belly so the skin is facing down, and then cover in enough cold water to submerge the meat. Cover tightly and place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250º C.
Drain the brine from the pork belly and pat it dry all over with a paper towel. Make sure that the skin is completely dry, otherwise it won’t crackle. Rub the skin with a little olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and fennel seeds. Place the pork skin side up on a rack that fits in a roasting dish and roast in the oven for 45 min, or until the skin starts to crackle. Remove from the oven and reduce temperature to 180ºC. Pour water into the roasting dish, ensuring that the skin remains dry. Return to oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 min, until tender.
Remove from the oven, and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 min, before cutting the meat into square bites, or slices. Serve while hot.
Note, this is a guideline only. Correct cooking on bbq is highly dependent on a number of factors such as the size of the bbq, the type of coal / briquettes, the placement of the roast, etc. The most important thing to remember is to check the roast often and to turn the meat to ensure even cooking.
We have used a medium-sized kettle bbq with lid.
Fill two coal trays with briquettes (it is advantageous to use briquettes and not charcoal as they hold the heat longer) and place on each side of the BBQ, leaveing a space in the middle that the roast can sit over. Place a foil tray between the coal trays (underneath the roast), to catch meat juice so that it doesn’t drip into the embers, and either causes flames or makes the BBQ difficult to clean. Light the briquettes and put a rack over to cover the entire grill. Wait for the briquettes to burn down until they are fiery red, very hot and with quite a low flame.
Place the roast on the rack, skin side up, over the drip tray between the coal trays, and roast for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Check often.
Rotate the roast occasionally to make sure it is cooking evenly on all sides, and always position with the skin side up.
For crispy crackling, turn the roast sideways, with the cracklling facing one of the coal trays, a little closer to one of the trays to expedite the process, keep an eye out, it burns easily! The crackling is done when it’s bubbled up and crispy all over. Total cooking time approx. 1-1.5 hours. Remove the roast from the heat and rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve while hot.
This recipe is part of my salt story published in Matmagasinet Nord #23 2017, focusing on using salt as a main ingredient for cooking or flavouring. Try these recipes from this series too:
Blackberry Grav Lax
Salt & Vinegar Potato Skins
Salt Dough Baked Leg of Lamb
The Perfectly Salty Margarita
Oozy Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Golden Pavlova with Summer Berries and Salted Chocolate Sauce
© Manja Wachsmuth 2017