Cooking pork belly can be intimidating. Done right, it is the most delicious roast you could hope for. The crispy, salty crackling hits all those cravings, with the actual meat being soft and juicy. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, the crackling might be chewy and the meat might be tough. To help, here is how to make a perfectly crispy pork belly!
- Rib-in pork belly (around 2.5kg)
- 1 ½ tbsp sea salt flakes
- 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
- ¼ tsp crushed black peppercorn
- Vegetable oil to drizzle
- 2 celery sticks, cut horizontally in half
- 2 onions, sliced thick
- 300ml chicken stock
- 330ml bottle dry cider
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- Leave the pork belly in the fridge overnight, allowing the skin to be exposed for it to dry.
- The next day, use a very sharp knife to score the skin. Score in 1cm intervals, not cutting through the actual meat.
- In a small bowl, mix together 1 tbsp sea salt, thyme leaves, and black pepper. Rub this onto the meat, but not onto the skin. Place the pork belly back in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Drizzle the oil over the skin and season with the remaining sea salt, getting it into the scoring as well.
- Place the celery sticks and onions into a large baking tray, sitting the pork on top of them with the skin side up.
- Put the baking tray into the oven and allow to roast for 45 minutes. The skin should start crisping up.
- After 45 minutes, turn the heat down to 160 degrees Celsius, and pour the chicken stock and the cider around the meat into the pan. Be careful not to touch the skin.
- Leave the pork to roast in the oven for another 3 hours.
- The meat should be tender and the crackling should be crispy.
- If the pork belly is not ready after this, then turn the oven back up to 200 degrees Celsius and allow to roast for another 15 or 20 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the baking sheet and place it onto a carving plate, placing the onions alongside it. Cover it with foil.
- Pour the juices from the pan into a jug and skim the fat off the top, then place these juices into a cooking pan with some boiled water and wholegrain mustard.
- Carve the meat and the cracking, and serve it with the onions, the celery, and the delicious gravy you made!
What To Remember To Make Perfectly Crispy Pork Belly
Dry skin – To get a crispy finish, the pork skin needs to be as dry as possible. Keeping it in the fridge overnight helps with this.
Always salt the meat – Salting the meat before it is cooked helps to draw moisture from the surface, and helps to soften and tenderise the meat.
Allow to reach room temperature – Leave the pork to reach room temperature before cooking, as it allows the meat to cook evenly.
High cooking temperature to start – Cooking the meat on high for the first bit helps to lift the rind from the juicy meat, and keeps it dry to become crispy.
(If you are wanting to avoid meat, here is a delicious meat-free dinner idea!)