This recipe is from my first cookbook, Comfort and Spice. I was a little pork belly obsessed at the time. I still am. How could you not be? It is the best bit. It feeds well into my next book which will be out very soon, all about bacon, the most famous bit of bacon being streaky, made of pork belly (or as some say, belly pork).

This recipe works well each way but if you have 6 hours, do it. You will likely worry about the crackling, we all do. Ensure the skin well is scored and scored just to the fat and not the skin. If you score to the skin, the skin will lose moisture which will not only dry out the flesh but also make the crackling soft. Make sure the skin is dry before you put it in the oven. If you have the time, pour the boiling water over the belly the night before and let it dry uncovered in the fridge overnight. A hair dryer is your best friend for good crackling. Give it a blast before you put it in the oven. If all of this fails (it shouldn’t be we all have those days I know), give it a good blast under a high grill once cooked, watching it all the time so it doesn’t burn. In a matter of minutes the skin will blister and crisp.

Two and Six Hour Roast Pork Belly Recipe from Comfort & Spice

My obsession with pork belly became infamous in the early days of my blog. I am quite faddish with food anyway, developing love affairs with favourite ingredients before I overdose and need a break. I could write about The Pork Chronicles, The Chorizo Files and a brief affair with dill from which I have never recovered. Pork belly has remained a keeper though. Who can resist that gorgeous rich flesh with its crackling cap? I can’t.

Your choices here are determined by time. When I am hungry and impatient, I reach for the two-hour dish. When I have time, I love to let pork belly roast slowly; ideal for Sunday lunch when you put it in first thing. The cider-braised lentils are perfect with it.

Two and Six Hour Roast Pork Belly 
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Yield: 4

Two and Six Hour Roast Pork Belly 

Ingredients

  • 2kg pork belly joint, skin scored by the butcher
  • sea salt
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthways and sliced
  • 1 celery stick, finely sliced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light oil
  • 300g Puy lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 350ml dry cider
  • 350ml light stock, such as chicken or pork

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8. Ensure your meat is at room temperature. Put the pork on a wire rack in your sink and pour boiling water over it. This puffs the skin and is one secret to good crackling. Dry the meat and skin thoroughly with kitchen paper. Just before you put it in the oven, and not a minute before, salt liberally with sea salt, rubbing it all over the joint. (If you do this too early it will ruin your crackling.) Put the pork in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/340°F/gas mark 3½ and roast for 1½ hours, for two-hour pork, or to 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½ for 5½ hours for the six-hour version. Meanwhile, sauté the carrots, celery and shallot in the oil for six to eight minutes. Take off the heat and mix with the lentils and bay leaves. Add to the pork with the cider and stock when the two-hour pork has 30 minutes left, or the six-hour pork has 1½ hours left. In both cases, return the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8 for a final 15 minutes to crisp the crackling, keeping an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • http://eatlikeagirl.com/two-and-six-hour-roast-pork-belly-one-speedy-recipe-one-slow/

    Recipe from Comfort and Spice by Niamh Shields (Me!), published by Quadrille. Photography by Georgia Glynn Smith.

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