Unless you’e got a big baseball bat, you can’t beat a pork belly. And I’m here to tell you that you most definitely can’t beat this particular recipe, which I’ve taken from Simon Cave’s magnificent ‘Manly Food’ cookbook. The meat is rich and juicy; the fat soft and melting; the skin crisp and crackly. And the flavour is BIG.
1 kg pork belly
2 tsp fennel seeds
175 ml dry sherry or shaosing Chinese rice wine
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin of the pork belly, without cutting into the meat, at 1cm intervals to form a cross-hatch pattern. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on a plate and place the pork, skin-side down, onto the salt. Leave to sit in the fridge for 2 hours before shaking any excess salt off the rind.
2. Sprinkle the fennel seeds over the scored skin, pressing some down into the slashes you have made.
3. Preheat the oven to 240C/Gas 8. Put the pork in a roasting tin and roast for 30 mins. This will make sure the fat side crisps up properly. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/Gas 6 and roast for another 2 1/2 hours.
4. Add the sherry or rice wine to the tin 15 mins before the end of the cooking time. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 mins.
5. Serve with mashed potatoes, steamed cabbage, apple sauce and the gravy in the bottom of the roasting tin.