Pork roasts with the skin left on are quite hard to find in the US but its well worth the hunt because once cooked, the skin is magically transformed into ‘crackling’; that crispy crunchy fragrantly delicious outer layer that should accompany a proper pork roast…a traditional British Sunday lunch delicacy that everyone, especially the men, like to fight over.
Your regular supermarket will probably sell pork belly that’s already been skinned so you’ll need to seek out a good Mexican butcher …see my last post, Rillettes of Pork, or an obliging meat counter manager who’ll order you a piece with the skin left on.
If you prefer, leave out the crushed spices; just rub the scored skin with sea salt and place the pork on top of 3 or four flattened peeled garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary that you’ve previously soaked in water for 30 mins. This will perfume the meat without overwhelming it.
ROAST PORK BELLY with SPICED CRACKLING
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
3-4 large cloves of peeled and flattened garlic
4lb (2kg) thick-end pork belly with skin
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Crush the seeds lightly in a pestle and mortar.
First of all, make sure the skin is completely dry and if it isn’t already scored, do it yourself with a sharp knife at finger-width intervals and down to the fat underneath but not into the meat.
Rub a good sized pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper and half of the cracked seeds onto the skin, working them into the cuts.
Place the flattened garlic in the bottom of a large roasting pan then scatter the remaining cracked seeds over them; put the meat on top, skin uppermost – and roast for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 360F/180C and cook for one hour and a half more, or until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a skewer and the skin has crackled to a gorgeous golden brown.
If the crackling looks a bit pale, turn the heat up to its highest setting and keep checking every 5 minutes, until it’s blistered and puffy.
Remove the roast from the oven and leave it to rest uncovered in a warm place for 20 minutes.
Remove the crackling before carving the meat and break it up into equally fair pieces to avoid arguments.
Belly pork needs to be sliced thickly in order to be fully appreciated.