1kg pork belly joint, skin on but boneless
large handful fresh sage leaves
handful fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 200C Fan
Make a paste from the herbs, garlic and lemon juice in a small blender
Lay the pork skin side down, score the flesh deeply and then rub the paste into the meat
Turn the pork over, place it skin side up on a rack in a roasting tray
Dry the skin then rub table salt into the skin
Roast the pork at 200 for 30 mins then reduce temp to 170 and roast for a further 2 hours
Remove from oven, check the crackling is crisp (see above if it isn't) allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving into slices
Pork belly is prized by the Chinese, but largely overlooked over here. They know that the layers of fat and muscle combine to make a supremely tasty, succulent cut of meat and that, because of the fat, a little goes a long way. It is also pretty cheap over here, because no-one really buys it. Add to this the fact that it comes with skin that makes brilliant crackling and you have a crowd pleaser.
Because of the fat, it really needs slow cooking so that the fat renders down somewhat and to give the skin a good shot at crisping up.
Now this recipe has a rub applied to the bottom of the meat before it is roasted and, while I have made this many times, I cannot really be sure how much flavour the rub really adds - and it tends to char because of the long cooking which means that the fat and juices that come out of the meat cannot really be used to make a gravy, which this does really need. One day I will try just to roast it plain and make a gravy but for now try it this way! I serve it with mashed potatoes and green veg - hence the need for a gravy. It is warm, filling and comfortable and pretty cheap too, so try it and enjoy. If the crackling doesn't crisp up in the time then, while the meat is resting strip it off the top and put it back in a hot (210C fan) oven for 15 or 20 minutes and that should see it right. Sage and rosemary are evergreen so this is a good way of getting some flavour into a mid-winter dish.