Whenever I see pork belly on the menu at a restaurant, the rest of the options become irrelevant because my decision has already been made. So I thought I’d give it a go at home, and I’m very glad I did. Because the belly is quite fatty, it’s difficult to overcook, as the fat acts as a kind of inner baster whilst cooking. As I’d never cooked pork belly before I had a look at a few recipes online, and this one is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, but there are so many different options available and you can pretty much use any flavour combination you want. The piece of meat I bought was from Marks and Spencer – it weighed about 700g and had a pepper/herb crust (which is why the meat has a very dark crackling). If the meat you buy doesn’t have anything on it, just score the fat, rub it with salt and oil and any herbs you like – rosemary and thyme are my favourites.
1 piece pork belly – around 700g
50ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp rosemary
75g plain flour
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature. Roughly chop the carrots, crush the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves and place them in a large baking tray. Score the fat with a very sharp knife, leaving around 1-2 cm between each score. Place the meat on top and pour the oil over. Season with salt, pepper and the rosemary.
2. Roast in the very hot oven for around 15 minutes to get the crackling going. Then turn down the heat to about 150C/Gas mark 4 and roast for an hour.
3. When the pork has been in the oven for an hour, pour half of the cider into the roasting tray (being careful not to pour it over the crackling) along with the cider vinegar. Return to the oven for another hour.
4. At this point you could prepare whatever sides you are having – we had roast sweet potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli cheese and homemade apple sauce.
5. When the pork is done (the meat should be very tender and the juices should run clear), remove it from the oven. Leave the meat to rest under tin foil for around 20 minutes.
6. Place the roasting tin with the carrot pieces and the garlic onto the stove (with the heat on) and add the flour. Stir thoroughly until there are no lumps. Gradually add the remaining cider, stirring to ensure the gravy is the same consistency all over.
7. Cut the pork into slices (around 2cm thick) and serve with whichever sides you like, pouring the gravy over the pork. Enjoy!