Pork belly is one of my absolute favourite meaty things. That crisp skin, tender meat and fleshy feel combined with it’s happy ability to take on bold flavours makes it an all-round winner.I saw some at the fabulous Essex Food Fair in Braintree I attended so snapped it up immediately – even going so far as to get the butcher to dig through his box of goodies to find some lovely belly strips for me. The pigs are reared in Battlesbridge, quite close to where I live so there’s that wonderful satisfaction that comes from using local produce and supporting local businesses.
I’ve cooked belly pork many times, but with a piece of pork with such provenance and the luxury of time I wanted to do more than just roast it. Some research online led me to believe that confit was the way to go. So I submerged it in fat, left it to bubble away for three hours and then gave it a further half hour in the pan dry, and the results are tender and juicy. I served it with simple carrots and an apple and onion velouté, which I lifted wholesale from Gordon Ramsay here. It’s a nice alternative to apple sauce, at once highly acidic yet rich to give a piquant edge to the glorious pork fat.
Pork belly confit:
3 pork belly strips
6 juniper berries
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
250ml sunflower oil (use whatever fat is on hand; goose fat or lard would be excellent)
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
- Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Warm the oil in a pan.
- Pound the juniper, coriander, oregano and salt together in a mortar and pestle. Rub this mix into the pork bellies on all sides.
- Place the meat into a shallow baking tray and pour over the hot oil. Sprinkle the rosemary over the top.
- Cover the tray with foil and put into the oven for three hours. No basting, no peeking!
- Take the tray out of the oven and leave to rest for ten minutes. Put the oven up to 200C.
- Remove the pork from the fat and put onto a clean baking tray. You will thank yourself later if this is non-stick.
- After a further 30 mins remove from the oven. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
Tip: reserve the oil from the pork and store in the fridge for another time. My fat is going towards – what else – roast potatoes!