- Serves: 8
- Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Prep Time: 30 minutes plus resting
- Effort: medium
- 4 kg boneless pork belly
- 15 leaves of sage, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- vegetable oil, for rubbing over the pork belly
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
- ½ leeks, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- mashed potato, to serve
- bramley apple sauce, to serve
- gravy, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Score the pork belly skin crossways to a depth of about a 1/2 cm at 2 cm intervals using a sharp knife. The idea is to score through the skin but not all the way through the layer of fat under it. Turn the belly over and season its underside with salt and pepper, then scatter over the chopped sage and garlic, covering the underside evenly.
2. Roll up the belly lengthways, with the skin to the outside, and tie it with cooking string. Youll need to make about 68 ties to hold it together securely. Place the pork belly on a wire rack over the kitchen sink. Pour over a large kettle of boiling water. As the water is poured over the skin, the skin will tighten up and the pores will open, allowing the heat and salt to penetrate more easily, enhancing the quality of the crackling. Pat the rolled belly dry and rub it with vegetable oil and a generous amount of salt.
3. Place the belly on a wire rack inside a roasting tray and place in the oven. The reason for the wire rack is to lift it off the bottom of the roasting tray so the hot air circulates all the way around the belly for even crackling. After about 45 minutes, the skin of the pork should be golden brown and crackled.
4. Turn the oven down to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and roast for 1 hour. Remove the roasting tray from the oven and lift out the rack with the pork on it. Scatter the carrot, celery, leeks and onion into the roasting tray and mix them with the fat that has rendered out of the pork during cooking. Place the rack with the pork back into the roasting tray over the vegetables. Roast for another hour, until the pork is tender.
5. Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 1015 minutes before carving. Carve with a large serrated knife so youre able to saw through the crackling. Serve with apple sauce, gravy and mashed potatoes.
Extract taken from Roast: a very British cookbook by Marcus Verberne (Absolute Press), £25.00, Hardback
Photography © Lara Holmes
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