The biggest mistake people make when cooking pork belly is underestimating how long it takes to cook. I have even been to 5 star establishments only to be disappointed by the flabby, fatty slice of belly that has not been rendered out properly.
This is an ideal dish to prepare in the morning and eat that night and the beauty of that is that your main course is ready and can sit for an hour or two while you prepare the side dishes. The crackling will never puff up dramatically without grilling at the end and the more the skin has rendered the lighter and crispier the crackling will be.
1 piece pork belly, skin on and scored
1 onion, cut into thick slices
1 head garlic cut in half
1 bottle white wine
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Preheat the grill in your oven to 220C. In a roasting pan place the slices of onion and cut garlic. Make sure they are close together and form a rectangle the same size as the piece of belly. Mix the dry spices together and rub all over the belly. Place the belly on top of the onions and then place under the grill for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 120C, pour a bottle of white wine into the pan and leave to cook for 6 – 8 hours minimum. Pork belly has a lot of fat that we want to render out and there is no danger of drying out the meat. After 6 hours squeeze the lemon juice over the skin. Just before you want to eat turn on the grill to crisp up the crackling. Serve with cauliflower mash, cucumber salad and wilted spinach.
By Richard Bosman