Roast Pork Belly with Crackling
Roast Pork was one of the first dishes that my mum taught me to cook, and I figured out the other day that I have been cooking this dish for over 20 years! I will admit I have called myself the Crackle Queen in the past because I just seem to get the crackling right every time. No fancy tricks here, just scoring, time and salt- and in that order- will get you beautiful results like this that the whole family will love!
This was one of my favourite childhood dishes growing up and for obvious reasons. The crispy, crunchy rind, the soft, rich meat and the accompanying roast vegetables are enough to make anyone swoon. I would say that this is a pretty low maintenance dish, which is probably why I started to help out from a young age. My mum would cook the loin roast, but I much prefer the belly for the distribution of fat that keeps the meat so moist while you attack the top with high heat.
“Up until recently I would have served this roast with a gravy made from the pan drippings, but lately I've been enjoying the contrasting hit of vinegar from a salsa verde to balance the richness for the meat. This of course is up to you. Even just a dollop of dijon mustard would be lovely.”
In my opinion, the key to getting good crackling is time. After scoring the rind, I lay the pork belly out on a roasting tray with rack, and let it sit, uncovered in the fridge for the period of 24 hours (it doesn't have to be exactly, but you get the gist #nearenough). This really dries the rind out and prepares it to crisp up beautifully in the oven once you salt it.
Roast Pork Belly with Crackling an original recipe by Kimberley Kells
Preparation time: 5 minutes + 24 hours in the fridge
Cooking time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children with sides
1kg Piece of Pork Belly, rind scored (the butcher can do this for you, or do it yourself using a bread knife)
1 Tablespoon of Salt
Step 1- If your pork belly has not been scored by the butcher, do this yourself, cutting through the rind and fat (but not the meat) with a serrated bread knife.
Step 2- Using a roasting tray with a rack, lay the pork belly flat on the rack, skin side up, and place the whole thing into the fridge, uncovered and leave for 24 hours to dry out.
Step 3- Preheat the oven to 200c. Season the meat underneath with salt and pepper, and rub the 1 tablespoon of salt into the skin on top, making sure to rub it into every cut. Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Step 4- After the 20 minutes is up, turn the heat down to 150c and slow roast for 2 hours.
Step 5- Turn on the grill in the oven and allow the rind to bubble up and crackle. Make sure the roasting tray is sitting close to the bottom of the oven, and not too close to the grill element to prevent burning. Watch this like a hawk and remove as soon as all the skin is crackled. It should take around 20 minutes.
Step 6- Remove from the oven and allow to rest uncovered while you make your gravy/sauce/accompaniments. If you cover in foil, the steam will soften your crackling and make it soggy. Slice and serve with roasted or steamed vegetables.