This is a recipe inspired by Valentine Warner, a very good chef and food writer and a friend who I adore. It’s my go-to way of making pork belly, which is such a pleasingly cheap cut of meat and wonderfully easy to cook; you just need to get your oven temperatures right.
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
1 tbsp fennel seeds
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1.5kg pork belly, skin on
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/gas 7.Put the rosemary, lemon zest, fennel seeds and garlic in a mortar and grind them with a pestle to a good paste. Stir in the oil and season with salt and pepper, then set aside.Pat the pork belly dry with kitchen paper then, using a sharp knife, score across the narrow width of the belly at 2cm intervals, taking care to score through the skin and fat, but not into the meat. Rub the rosemary and lemon marinade all over the scored skin.Pour 1cm depth of water into a roasting tray, place a rack in the tray and the pork belly on top. Roast in the oven until the skin starts to bubble and crackle; this should take about 30 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and cook for a further 1 hour, until the meat is tender to the point of a knife. If the pork needs crisping up, increase the oven heat to 240C/220C fan/gas 9 and roast for a final 15 minutes, until it’s good and crispy.Remove the pork from the oven, leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve. I like to serve it on a bed of leaves for some freshness.
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