There is no substitute for a good local butcher. They will always procure special orders of meat for specific dishes, they will help prepare pieces of meat for you (chining bones, deboning, chopping and slicing), and they are always able to vouch for the provenance of your meat.
My butcher does all of the above. This weekend whilst in their shop, I decided that I would prepare a slow roasted pork belly for family and friends who were joining us for our Saturday evening meal. The piece of British pork was promptly chopped to the right size for the number of people I wanted to feed, scored and made ready for me to cook.
Crackling is always a big hit in our house. My children always fight for extra portions. The good thing about pork belly is that there is lots of it to go around.
This recipe is truly delicious and finger licking good. It is cooked for just over three hours, falls to pieces when it is ready and has some wonderful onion marmalade that is slowly caramelised under the joint. I served the pork with some stir-fried greens. Every plate was empty at the end of the meal, which is always a good sign.
1.3kg piece pork belly , boned, rind left on and scored (ask your butcher to do this)
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp white peppercorns , crushed
6 large onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red chilli , deseeded and chopped
1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Lay the pork, skin-side up, on a rack in a roasting tin. Trickle with a little oil and run into the skin. Once this is done lightly press on the crushed peppercorns and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Place in the oven, then cook for 1 hr. Remove from the oven and baste with the juices. Continue to cook for a further 1½ hrs, basting every 20 mins.
2. Put the sliced onions in the roasting tin under the pork. Mix the honey together with the cumin and chilli, brush it over the pork, then increase the oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6. Cook for a further 30-40 mins, basting occasionally, until caramelised with a rich, golden glaze over the pork. Once cooked and tender (this can be easily tested by piercing the flesh with a knife), remove pork from the oven, then leave to rest for 10-15 mins.
3. While the pork is resting, heat the tin on the stove with the onions, adding 2 tbsp water. This will lift any residue from the pan, creating a moist cooking liquor. Divide the onions between 6 plates. Carve pork into 6 portions, and serve. Pour any remaining liquor over and serve with the vegetables. (This dish is also very good served with mash potatoes).