Slow-cooked belly pork recipe

Richard Fox: "The only way to cook belly pork is long and slow. Not only does this make it melt-in-the-mouth tender, but also lends itself perfectly to the addition of a full-flavoured, robustly strong Belgian or English ale, where the beer flavours have got time to really penetrate and flavour the meat. An abbaye ale, such as Leffe blonde, Trappist, such as Chimay, or full-flavoured English ale, such as Fullers 1845, is perfect. As far as presentation goes, this is a gloriously rustic dish. So, rather than try and turn it into something fancy, just stick a huge bowl of mash in the middle of the table; pile the slices of pork on a big chopping board along with the ribs, and pour all the sauce and veg into a soup tureen with ladle. Let everyone pile in and decide their own proportions of mash to sauce to meat. If there are any lingering doubts that a successful dinner party depends on twee towers and sculptured garnishes, then this will banish them once and for all."

Ingredients

  • 1kg belly pork, preferably with the bone still intact
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  • ½ onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Fennel stalks (from 2 bulbs)
  • 1 leek
  • 330ml beer
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • 300ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs rosemary

For the dry marinade

  • 1dsp chopped oregano
  • 1dsp chopped parsley
  • 1dsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

How to make slow-cooked belly pork

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Cook as above, but allow meat and sauce to cool before refrigerating. To serve, simply heat slices of belly pork in the oven, heat the sauce and serve with a good dollop of re-heated mash.

2. Score the skin of the belly pork with a series of criss-cross diagonal slashes. You will need an extremely sharp knife, or an artist's scalpel.

3. Combine all the dry marinade ingredients and rub into the slashed surface of the skin - as if you're giving a massage. Chop all the remaining vegetables and put in the bottom of a roasting tin, big enough to accommodate the belly pork. Place the belly pork on the veg and pour in the beer and the tinned tomatoes.

4. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and to the tray until it comes about 2/3 of the way up the side of the meat. Add the herbs and put in the oven for about 4 hours.

5. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for no less than 15 minutes - this allows the meat to relax and the meat juices to flow into the sauce giving added flavour.

6. After resting, remove the belly and place on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the whole slab of meat away from the ribs. Then pull and cut away the crackling and set aside for garnish. If the crackling is not crispy enough, just turn the oven up to 200°C and put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes (after separating it from the meat).

7. Carve the meat into approximately 1½ cm slices - you'll need a really sharp knife but don't worry if the meat falls apart a little - this is all about flavour, not fancy presentation. Serve up the ribs as well - there's stacks of juicy, succulent meat between each one just begging to be gnawed off the bone!

Par-cooking tip: Cook as above, but allow meat and sauce to cool before refrigerating. To serve, simply heat slices of belly pork in the oven, heat the sauce and serve with a good dollop of re-heated mash.


© Richard Fox

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