Roasted pork belly
Last year I roasted a turkey for the first and last time. Not that I didn’t like the finished product, there was just so much of it leftover, and with just D and I, turkey leftovers get a little boring, no matter how you try to dress them up.
This year, D will have to do without turkey, as I have the special present of my parents visiting, and I’m reverting to a family tradition of making roast pork for my family.
I’m lucky to live in Singapore where I have easy access to lots and lots of pork belly, my favourite cut of pork to roast. It’s such a tasty cut of meat, due to the layers of fat between the meat that seem to almost melt once roasted, just basting the meat in tasty goodness and keeping the meat tender and moist.
A little preparation can also give you brilliantly crispy crackling. Simply pat the meat dry and score the skin every 1 cm (you can also ask your butcher to do this for you). A great trick is to use a stanley knife – it’s a bit rudimentary, but it works a treat in giving you evenly deep cuts into the skin without any stress at all.
Coat the entire cut of meat in oil, and then rub a liberal amount of salt into the skin, making sure you get salt into the scores. Then pop into the fridge, uncovered, for a few hours or overnight if you can. Both the salt and the fridge draw the moisture out of the skin to ensure a really cracking crackling.
Bring the meat out of the oven an hour or two before roasting to bring it to room temperature.
Brush off the excess salt, and then season the entire cut on all sides, above and below with salt and pepper.
Pop onto a roasting tray, and into a hot oven at 230C for 30 minutes to get the crackling going. Then lower the temperature to 180C for an hour – an hour and a half if you’ve got a huge piece of pork belly. Because pork belly is a thin-ish cut of meat, it doesn’t take a long time in the oven, but also because of the layers of fat, it’s a forgiving meat to leave in the oven for longer at a low temperature.
Leave out to rest for at least 30 minutes before tucking in. This will give you time to make gravy with the juices in the tray.
Haricot vert, potatoes roasted in duck fat, honey-glazed carrots
Serve with roasted potatoes (I’m doing mine in duck fat for a more festive touch – if only I could find goose fat !), roasted onions, garlic, leeks and any other vegetables that you can find in your fridge.