Slow roasted pork belly has always been a favourite in our home. Meltingly tender with a crisp crackle crust. In summer we enjoy our pork belly with a refreshing vinaigrette based coleslaw. In Winter, however, we turn to a richer Asian inspired variation.
The secrets to foolproof crackle were the subject of one of my earliest and most popular posts It’s All About The Crackling – Slow Roasted Pork Belly Scented with Fennel, and they are just as relevant here. In fact, they have been incorporated into the seemingly long-winded recipe. It’s not as complicated as it might appear at first glance.
Great crackle starts with a scored and thoroughly dried rind. Marinades can be liberally applied to the flesh of the pork belly but be careful (as far as is reasonably possible) to avoid the skin. Once the belly has been slow roasted to perfection, its just a matter of turning up the oven temperature to crisp up the rind into golden, airy perfection. Watch it like a hawk, the honey in the marinade means your belly is more inclined to burn. The braver and more vigilant amongst us might care to crisp up our crackle in mere seconds under a searing hot grill.
The beauty of this dish? It’s another slow cooked winter warmer requiring just a little initial preparation, then it’s simply a matter of set and forget as delicious aromas waft through the house. Carved into thick generous slices and served with wilted Asian greens, a little steamed jasmine rice and a wonderfully sticky soy and honey sauce. The overwhelming verdict? Deliciously rich, decidedly unctuous and enormously satisfying.
Sticky Soy And Honey Roasted Pork Belly with Crisp Crackle.
1 x 1.5 kg pork belly
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Marinade
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated zest of a mandarin or orange
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 red birds eye chillies, sliced on the diagonal
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
stalks and roots of 1/2 small bunch coriander, leaves picked and reserved for garnish
2 1/2 cups warm water
PREHEAT oven to 160 C. Line a roasting pan that is just a little larger than your piece pork belly with non stick baking paper for easier clean up. I used a 20cm x 20 cm pan.
USING a sharp knife, score the pork belly skin and fat without cutting into the meat. If time is on your side pour a whole kettle of boiling water over the pork belly, skin side up and dry well with paper towels. I like to do this on a rack in the kitchen sink. Leave to air dry for at least half an hour.
RUB pork skin with a little peanut oil and sea salt.
COMBINE all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour two cups of the marinade into the prepared roasting pan.
PLACE pork belly skin side up in the centre of the pan, the marinade should come no more than three quarters up the sides of the pork belly and its skin surface should remain dry to ensure a crisp crackle. The marinade will evaporate and reduce into a sticky sauce as the pork belly roasts.
ROAST in preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until tender. Check every now and then adding leftover marinade or extra water to the pan to prevent the sauce from drying out and caramelising.
WHEN pork belly is meltingly soft and tender remove the pan from the oven.
INCREASE oven temperature to 250 C. Return the pork belly to the oven on a tray skin side up to crisp up the crackle. Watch carefully as the sugar content of the honey in the marinade means the pork may burn easily. Alternatively you can also crisp up the crackle under a hot grill. When crisp immediately remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
MEANWHILE strain the sauce through a kitchen towel lined sieve into a bowl ( I find the paper towel will absorb the majority of the fat). Leave to sit and remove any residual fat that has accumulated on the surface.
CARVE the pork in generous slices and serve with wilted Asian greens, a little of the sauce and a side serving of steamed rice.