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Slow-Roasted Spiced Pork Belly with Crackling and Zingy Gravy

As you’ve probably already guessed I’m a big fan of pork, especially the cheaper cuts. These are not only good for your bank balance, but they’re also the tastiest. The taste and the cheapness come from the high fat content. Long slow cooking helps to render down the fat and leaves you with tender flavoursome meat.

When cooking this recipe I tried another technique for crackling. Instead of starting the roasting process off on a high heat (which sometimes means the crackling needs to be removed from the meat at the end of cooking to be roasted on a high heat again), I simply turned the heat right up for the last 30-40 minutes of cooking time. This is also good if you’re trying to roast veg or bake potatoes at the same time as your meat is cooking.

In this post there is also another recipe for homemade gravy, this time with a bit of a twist. After the success of the Zingy Sweet Pork Casserole (see my blog from April 3rd 2012), my boyfriend asked for a gravy that tasted like that sauce, so I did some experimenting!

Ingredients:

Pork Belly – Here I used a 1½lb/700g joint but you can use bigger pieces, just increase the cooking time by 1 hour for every extra 1lb/450g

Olive oil – ½-1 tablespoon

Spice rub – I raided my spice cupboard and used 1 teaspoon each of mustard powder, celery salt, white pepper, ground ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and ground mixed spice (or Chinese five spice if you have it)

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Flour – 1 tablespoon

Chicken stock – ½ pint/300ml (1 small foil container – see my Chicken Stock blog March 21st 2012 )

Cider vinegar – 1 tablespoon

Soy sause – 1 tablespoon

Honey – 1 tablespooon

Cornflour – 1 tablespoon dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water

Equipment: Roasting tin with a rack/trivet and lid (or tin foil), measuring jug, saucepan, whisk.

Method:

  1. Rub the olive oil and then the spice mix all over the flesh and skin on the pork. You can leave this to marinade for a couple hours if you like.
  2. Place on wire rack, skin side up and sprinkle the salt on the skin.
  3. Add water to the roasting tin until just below the meat.
  4. Cover and place in a preheated oven at 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas 2 for 2½ hours (another hour for every extra 1lb/450g).
  5. You can baste halfway through, or just leave it if you like.
  6. Turn the oven up to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas6.
  7. Remove the pork from the oven, take off the tin foil, place the wire rack on the tin foil so you work tops don’t get dirty, and pour off the juices from the roasting tin into the jug, scraping out any sediment too. Leave to cool for half an hour.
  8. Place the wire rack back in the roasting tin, add a little more salt to the skin, and put in the oven on the higher temperature for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in a warm place (I use my top oven or you can place the meat on a warmed plate lightly covering it with tin foil) to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  9. When the meat juices are cooled, strain the fat off from the top and discard. Pour the remaining juices into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Gradually whisk in the plain flour.
  10. Add the stock and bring back up to the boil.
  11. Add the cider vinegar and cook off for a minute or two before adding the soy sauce and honey. Simmer for a few minutes before adding the cornflour and simmering until desired consistency. Pour into a jug or gravy boat to serve.
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