I love slow cooked pork and when a piece of pork belly was on sale today at a ridiculous price, that was definitely going to be dinner. John loves crackling but since his heart attack, the crackling had to stay on the cutting board all but one tiny piece.
My mother was a tough woman and rarely gave praise to her children and I was no exception — except where pork is concerned.
Years ago, mom came to visit me when I lived in Florida and I cooked a slow roasted pork loin. It was succulent and tender and after a few bites she said, “Maureen, that’s the best pork I’ve ever eaten. I had no idea you could cook.” Talk about a back-handed compliment. But… she had given me praise and I’ve never forgotten it.
My mother didn’t like fat and I’m sure I get that from her because I don’t like the texture or mouth-feel of fat. Pork belly can be quite fatty but my four legged friend Charlie thinks it’s great because he’ll get after dinner treats. I can hear some of you say that the fat is where all the flavor is but it doesn’t matter – it feels icky.
I remember another time my mother visited me in Knoxville, Tennessee while I was in college. I hadn’t been there long and had just learned about pork BBQ and wanted to make it for her. I carefully pulled all the pork apart and took every bit of fat off that I could find. During dinner I wanted to ask her if she needed a magnifying glass because she examined every bite before eating it to ensure it had no fat. You wonder why I’m weird?
Do you have any quirky habits that you’ve picked up from a parent or other close adult that has stayed with you for a lifetime?
This meat is really easy to prepare, especially if the butcher has already scored the fat. If that’s the case, bring it out of the refrigerator and leave it to warm to room temperature, dry it off, rub the salt in and in the oven it goes. I know there are Asian recipes with lots of wonderful flavors to put on top but for me, just salt and the flavor of the pork does it.
I served it with mashed sweet potatoes and homemade apple sauce and a few peas.
- 2 onions sliced thickly
- 1 pork belly around 1.5 kg or 3 lbs.
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Bring the pork to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 220C/425F fan forced
- Dry the fat with paper towels until completely dry.
- If the butcher hasn't scored the fat, do so with a very sharp knife, making sure you don't cut into the meat.
- Rub the kosher salt over the fat and press into the cuts.
- Place the onions on the bottom of a baking tray and put the pork belly on top of them.
- Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 170C/335F and roast for a further 3 hours until the pork is tender and the fat is crisp.
- Rest for 30 minutes and then cut into slices for serving.