Slow roast pork belly with a zesty mediterranean twist

This is a real slow-cooker. Pork belly is uncured, un-sliced and unsmoked bacon actually. By chefs, pork belly is generally considered superior to bacon. It has juicy layers of fat covering the meat part which is quite small in proportion to the fat. During cooking it becomes really tender, not so different from pork loin. I simply melts in your mouth, giving a pleasing contrast to the crispiness of the crust on top.

There are many recipes for slow cooked pork belly. Asian cuisine is very rich of them and combine it often with citrus and Chinese spices and French versions are fond of the citrus as well but they are herbier.
The citrus is in fact a top combination to this fatty succulent dish as well as seeds and herbs of many kinds. Apples and onions work well to. These ingredients have a magical degreasing effect, and add a fresh zesty herbal taste to this comforting winter dish.

The roast is a perfect lunch for a lazy Sunday, and then the cold leftover pieces (if there are some) are great stuffing for a sandwich together with coleslaw.
This version is a personalized version. The oranges and lemons together with the fennel add to the Mediterranean twist, while the potatoes and red cabbage accompaniment give a Northern sparkle to the whole thing.
I find roasting tin the perfect cooking place for the pork belly, as the depth of the tin lets the meat juices pool instead of drying up and the rack allows fat to drip from the meat.

Ingredients

serves 4-6 (depends)

  • 1,5 kg boneless pork belly (skin on)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled and center removed)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (I use wild fennel seeds from Sicily which are the most aromatic I ever found)
  • some sea salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • a dash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • juice from 2 lemons and 2 oranges

Method

  1. Toast the fennel seeds for an even more perfume explosion together with the peppercorn in a dry pan for a moment.
  2. Pound them together in a mortal with a pestle together with some sea salt and garlic cloves into a paste.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and then rub the mixture all over the flesh.
  4. Cover the meat tightly and marinate in the refrigerator overnight (or at least a few hours).
  5. When ready to cook, place the meat on a roasting tin
  6. Rub the skin with a good amount of coarse salt and olive oil.
  7. Roast for 30 minutes at 180C°
  8. Lower the temperature to 140°C and squeeze the juice of 1 1/2 lemon on top and bake for 2 hours lightly covered with aluminum foil.
  9. Control the roast regularly and be careful to add little water once in a while to the tin so that the fat doesn’t dry up or burn.
  10. Remove the foil from top of roast, turn the heat to 200°C and roast for another 30 minutes.
  11. Remove roast from oven, cut in cubes and serve with the orange & lemon glaze, Grandmother’s red cabbage and Whole baked potatoes. You can serve the roast with many things. Many kind of potato accompaniment work great, and red cabbage adds to the degreasing effect and adds a beautiful color as well.

Orange & lemon glaze

  1. Pour the orange and remaining lemon juice to a pan with the brown sugar and let it simmer for a few minutes until the mixture has reduced into a medium thick glaze.

 

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