Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Roast Pork Belly and New Potatoes

I often get lovely big chunks of pork belly in Chinatown - it keeps well in the freezer and is always welcome when you're looking for something hearty, comforting and a bit greedy. This super simple method is one of my go-to techniques.

Roast Pork Belly and New Potatoes
Very loosely based on this recipe


1.5kg pork belly
3-4 tablespoons of Chinese five spice powder
1kg small new potatoes
salt and pepper


1. If the fat is to crackle, you will need to score and season it. This is how. With an ultra-sharp blade, score through the skin at finger-thick widths (to give long, pickupable strips of crackling). Go down through the fat under the skin, but don't cut into the meat. Or you can do it in a diamond pattern as in the picture above.

2. Generously salt and pepper the pork belly. Rub the Chinese five-spice powder into the pork belly, pushing it into any available crevice or slit. You need to give the seasoning time to do its stuff, so leave the meat in a cool place for an hour or so. 

3. Wash the potatoes and tip them into a roasting pan.

4. Set the oven at 200°C/gas 6. You are going to cook the pork directly on the oven shelf above the spuds, so place one oven shelf near the bottom and another two thirds of the way up. When the oven has come up to temperature, pour a little oil over the potatoes, just enough to stop them from sticking, add a wineglass of water, and shake them about a bit, then put the roasting pan on the lower shelf.

5. Pull the top shelf out and place the pork on it, skin side up, then slide it back. Leave the pork and potatoes for an hour, tossing the potatoes once during cooking, so that they turn over. Presumably you want your pork juicy and barely pink. Cut into it with a sharp knife to check its progress. Any pink in there? Then cook it for a little longer. You should find it will be just right in about an hour and half.

6. To crisp the skin, the heat will need to be higher, so turn the oven up to 250°C/ gas 8, or its highest setting, and continue cooking until the skin is puffed and crisp. Remove the meat and leave it to rest--it will be juicier that way--then remove the potatoes, which should be sticky and deep brown.

7. Cut the meat into thick chunks rather than slices and serve with the potatoes.

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