Pork belly is one of my favourite cuts – it’s cheap, produces incredible crackling and it’s so simple to cook if you follow a couple of basic steps. I wanted to take advantage of the sun and fire up the BBQ, but needed to make sure it was throughly cooked, so did most of the cooking in the oven first.
I was in a hurry so decided to use some of our Magic BBQ Dust for a fast way to really boost the flavour of the meat. For the crackling, we gave it a kick with some Vanilla Salt because it gives extra depth.
Preparing the pork is easy but takes a few hours to really get it right – I normally do this the night before for best results. You first need to score the skin lots of times – your butcher can do this for you. A Stanley knife is best but any sharp knife will do – try and go down deep but not into the meat.
The golden rule is it needs to be dry when going in the oven and this is best achieved by carefully pouring a kettle of boiling water over it. This will open up the slits in the skin and, as it evaporates, it will steam dry the skin – just like boiled potatoes steam dry once drained. Pop on a plate and leave uncovered for an hour or so – I usually put it in a cold oven to keep it safe but the draft of an open window would be perfect providing it isn’t sunny and can be protected from anything nasty getting to it.
Right, now for the recipe!
- pork belly; about 1kg should be enough for 4-6 people
- 1-2 tsp Magic BBQ Dust
- 2 tsp Vanilla Salt
- 3-4 onions, cut in half for a trivet to sit the pork on
- preheat the oven to its highest setting, probably around 260c
- sprinkle Magic BBQ Dust on the meat side of the pork belly & rub in well
- rub Vanilla Salt into the skin, making sure it goes in all the slits; rub a pinch of the Magic BBQ Dust on the skin too for extra flavour & colour
- put the onions in a roasting tray to form a trivet & place the pork on top, skin side up
- put into the hot oven for an initial 25 minute sizzle – this is important as it will form the basis for the crackling
- turn the oven down to 180c & cook for a further 15 mins per 500g (if only cooking in the oven, increase this to 20 mins per 500g to make sure it’s cooked)
- place on a BBQ (when the coals are grey), skin side up, for around 5-10 mins to get a flame grilled, smokey flavour. Make sure it doesn’t catch fire as the fat drips onto the coals!
- leave to rest for 15 mins & carve into slices
I tend to get carried away when cooking dishes like this and often forget to take a picture before devouring it. Sadly, this was one of those occasions, so I thought I’d show you what happens when you cook pork this way and put it in front of 4 hungry people!