Juicy, tender roasted salt and pepper pork belly with the crispiest, crunchy crackling/skin. This is a showstopper main dish that is sure to impress.
There’s just something about crisp, golden crackling that makes people swoon. Very few people can resist it and although there are a few tips and tricks to getting delicious, crunchy cracking, it’s so simple to make.
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What is pork belly?
Pork belly is a fatty cut of meat, literally from the belly of a pig. It is use in many different cuisines around the world. It’s most often used to prepare streaky or American-style bacon and is fantastic roasted whole.
This easy pork belly recipe really only needs 3 ingredients. Good quality pork is sweet, succulent and perfect seasoned generously with salt and pepper. If you however wanted to add more, rubbing the meat (not the skin) of the pork belly with garlic or herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage will add extra flavor.
- Pork belly. I prefer cooking deboned belly as it is makes carving very easy. However, if you can’t find deboned, bone-in works just as well. Simply slice the rib bones away once roasted.
- Salt. I love using smoked salt but good, flaky sea salt (like Maldon) is all you need.
- Pepper. Freshly cracked pepper is essential.
How to cook pork belly
- Prepare the pork belly: Score the skin with a sharp knife. Take care not to cut through to the meat. You can also get your local butcher to do this for you. Pat dry with paper towels then season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Cook: Place pork belly in a roasting or baking dish and place on the middle rack in a hot oven (220°C/430°F) to roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 160°C/320°F and continue roasting for 25 minutes per 500g/1lb until it reaches 62°C/145°F on a meat thermometer.
- Allow to rest: Remove the cooked pork from the oven, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving. Resting the meat after cooking is the most important step in the whole cooking process. Hours of marinating and perfect cooking means nothing if your meat hasn’t rested. Resting allows all the natural juices to re-distribute back into the meat and makes pork so moist, you won’t even need a sauce. If you don’t rest the meat, you’ll find a 24big puddle of juice once you start carving. Juice that should be in the meat.
How to get crispy pork crackling
The trick to crunchy crackling? Dry skin. The skin on the pork belly needs to be very dry for it to be able to bubble and crisp up. Before placing the pork in a hot oven, I rubbed the skin with smoked salt and lots of black pepper. The salt also adds to the crisping of the skin. Starting the roasting at a high heat also allows that initial crisping of the skin to happen. If your pork crackling isn’t as crispy as you want it, place the pork under a hot broiler for a few minutes until it’s done your preference.
Freezing and making ahead
- Freezing: Roasted pork can be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months. The crackling will lose its texture once thawed but the meat will still be delicious. Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw completely in the fridge before using.
- Make ahead: The pork belly can be dried and seasoned and left uncovered in the fridge to chill for up to 24 hours before roasting. Roasted pork belly can rest for up to an hour, covered with foil, before carving and serving.
What to serve with pork belly
Pork belly is rich and unctuous so serving a green vegetable like roasted broccoli as a side dish is a good idea. We also love it with creamy mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese or glazed carrots to add some sweetness.
Salt and pepper pork belly with perfect crispy crackling
- 1.5 kg (3lb) Pork belly Deboned
- 1 tbsp salt I used smoked salt
- 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and place a wire rack in a roasting tray.
- Score the skin of the pork belly with a very sharp knife, taking care not to cut through to the meat.
- Rub the skin and meat of the pork belly with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
- Place the pork belly on the wire rack and place the tray in the oven.
- Roast the belly for 30 minutes at 220°C/430°F then turn the temperature down to 160°C/320°F and allow to roast for another 25 minutes per 500g (1lb) until it reads 62°C/145°F on a meat thermometer.
- When the pork belly is cooked, remove from the oven then cover with foil and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes but up to one hour.
- When the belly has rested, carve the meat then serve.