- Serves: 4-6
- Cook Time:
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Effort: easy
- 1.8 kg pork belly, skin on
- 8 dried bay leaves
- 3-4 large cloves garlic
- olive oil
- 1.1 kg potatoes, approximate quantity
- 150 ml white wine, stock, or water, approximate quantity
1. If the fat is to crackle, you will need to score and season it. This is how. With an ultra-sharp blade--I use a craft knife--score through the skin at finger-thick widths (to give long, pickupable strips of crackling). Go down through the fat under the skin, but don't cut into the meat.
2. Make a seasoning by crumbling the bay leaves with your fingers, peeling the garlic and squashing it with the flat of a knife, then mashing the two together either with a pestle and mortar or in a food processor. Add a good pinch of salt flakes and some black pepper. You are going to spread this seasoning over the meat, so you need to pour in enough oil to make a spreadable mush.
3. Place the pork skin side down and massage the seasoning into it, pushing it into any available crevice or slit. You need to give the seasoning time to do its stuff, so leave the meat in a cool place for an hour or so.
5. Peel the potatoes, cut them into large chunks (only you know how big you like your roast potatoes), and drop them into boiling salted water. They need to cook until they are just about tender enough to slip the point of a knife into them with hardly any pressure--a matter of ten to fifteen minutes.
6. Drain them, tip them into a roasting pan, and shake them about a bit so the edges bruise and fray. That way the potatoes will soak up the seasoned juices from the roast.
7. Set the oven at 200°C/gas 6. You are going to cook the pork directly on the oven shelf above the spuds, so place one oven shelf near the bottom and another two thirds of the way up. When the oven has come up to temperature, pour a little oil over the potatoes, just enough to stop them from sticking, add a wineglass of water, and shake them about a bit, then put the roasting pan on the lower shelf.
8. Pull the top shelf out and place the pork on it, skin side down, then slide it back. Leave the pork and potatoes for an hour, tossing the potatoes once during cooking, so that they turn over. Presumably you want your pork juicy and barely pink. Cut into it with a sharp knife to check its progress. Any pink in there? Then cook it for a little longer. You should find it will be just right in about an hour and half.
9. To crisp the skin, the heat will need to be higher, so turn the oven up to 250°C/ gas 8, or its highest setting, and continue cooking until the skin is puffed and crisp. Remove the meat and leave it to rest--it will be juicier that way--then remove the potatoes, which should be sticky and deep brown. It would be a shame not to use the flavour that is left in the pan scrapings, so pour a wineglass of white wine, stock, or water into the roasting pan and bring it to a boil on top of the stove, stirring well. The amount you add will depend on how much of the caramelized meat juice there is to dissolve.
10. Cut the meat into thick chunks rather than slices, following the bones with your carving knife, put some of the potatoes with it, then pour over some of the gravy. You can, of course, roast the pork in a roasting pan rather than on the shelf of the oven.
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