A classic, easy to follow recipe for slow roasted pork belly with crispy skin and tender meat, a winner for Sunday roasts or weeknight entertaining.
I haven't always been a fan of pork belly or pork as such but once I learnt how to cook it properly this changed quickly. Since then I make this roast occasionally for the family, and it always turns out to be a hit!
Served with my salted apple caramel sauce and roasted baby carrots with chimichurri, you will be set for a delicious meal. Make sure to carve the belly right at the table so that everyone can hear that beautiful crackling of the skin!
Pork belly is easy to cook once you have a recipe that works. You want the skin to be crispy but the meat to be juicy and tender. Our roast is all that but doesn't take hours to cook - try it for yourself!
What is pork belly?
As the name suggests, pork belly is the belly of a pig. This fatty cut of meat is easy to spot in the butchery due to a thick layer of fat running across the top.
Does it remind you of something else too? Correct! Bacon is made from pork belly after it has been smoked, cured and sliced.
Pork belly is a rich cut of meat and hence doesn't require many ingredients, these few ingredients below are more than enough:
Pork Belly - look for a rectangular or square cut of pork belly with the fat still attached to the meat. Some butchers will score the fat for you already which comes in handy if you don't have a sharp knife at home.
Fennel Seeds and pork make for a perfect combination.
Smoked Paprika is used to add a rich, smoky flavour to the meat.
Sea Salt to add to the spice rub and to help crisp up the skin.
How to make it
Now, there are a few tricks to make the perfect pork belly, I of course will try to cover most, but here is an important one to start with!
the day before
Chances are high that you plan your special meal days ahead. I personally like to do my shopping at least one day before I do all my cooking.
A good practice here is to leave the pork belly with the fat side up uncovered in the fridge to dry out the skin. This will help to get a nice crackling. Or even better, prepare the next two steps and then leave the belly over night in the fridge.
Scoring the pork belly skin
Scoring the skin of the pork belly will help in rendering the fat and create that crackling crisp. You will need a very sharp knife to do this, some even use a carpet knife!
Cut diagonal lines on the fat of the belly with the tip of your knife. Make sure not go too deep, you just want to score the top layer of the fat.
If you cut into the meat, you risk the juices escaping and the meat becoming dry.
The spice rub
Pork belly doesn't need much seasoning, sometimes salt is enough. For some extra flavour I have created a simple spice mix.
Just combine the fennel seeds, smoked paprika and sea salt preferably in a mortar using a pestle. Rub the pork belly all around with the spice mix and let it infuse.
Leave the meat in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.
Boiling water method
The boiling water method I adapted from a chef who had trained in Asia and made the most amazing 5 spice pork belly.
Once the spice rub has infused long enough place it on a wire rack sitting on top of a roasting tray (or you can do this over the kitchen sink).
Bring a small pot with water to a boil and pour the water over the skin with a ladle couple of times (a ladle at a time to be more precise).
The hot water shrinks the skin and again, will help with crisp up the roast. Make sure to pour the water only over the fatty skin and thoroughly pat dry the surface afterwards with a paper towel.
Cooking the pork belly
To cook the pork belly leave it with the skin side facing up on the oven rack with the roasting tray underneath. This way the fat can drip down into the tray without creating a mess in your oven.
Add olive oil to the surface of the roast and season again with sea salt. Rub in the salt between the splits of the scored skin this is another important step to help achieve that crackling.
Cook the pork belly at 190°C (375°F) for 30 minutes and then increase the temperature to 220°C (425°F). Leave the pork roast for a further 15-20 minutes for that wonderful crackling to happen.
Carving the roast
Once the time is up check the texture of the skin. Use the back of a knife and gently scrape the top. You should hear that oh so familiar sound, kinda' like cutting into a fresh loaf of sourdough.
As with all roasts, it is important to give the pork belly a good rest before carving it. About 10 minutes is a good time.
Use a sharp knife or a serrated knife and gently cut through the crispy top.
To check if the pork roast is cooked stick a knife or fork into the meat. If the juices that come out are clear the pork is cooked, if pink the pork needs longer.
Pork belly is in general a cut that is rather thin hence the cooking time will be similar. However to make sure check the doneness of the belly if the time is up, you might have to increase the cooking time and reduce the temperature.
Stored in the fridge pork belly keeps for 3-4 days. To reheat, cut the pork belly in slices and sear in the pan from both sides for 4-5 minutes.
What to serve it with
My favourite combination is pork belly and apple sauce. We created an apple and rosemary caramel sauce for this roast and the pairing was divine. If you fancy a gravy, make our simple chicken gravy recipe, it works well together.
Other suggestions are:
- mashed potato made with lots of butter
- roasted potatoes with preserved lemons
- brussel sprout slaw, cuts trough the fattiness of the pork belly
- roasted baby carrots with chimichurri sauce, adds a lovely kick
- braised red cabbage, reminds me of Christmas in Germany
- fondant potatoes, more of a fine dining garnish
This crispy skin pork belly is truly a showstopper main dish to impress your guests! So when you make it next for your dinner party, let us know how you went!
Until then happy cooking!
Crispy Skin Pork Belly Roast
- roasting rack
- deep roasting tray
- small pot
- mixing bowl
for cooking the belly
- 850 gram pork belly
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
for the spice mix
- ½ tablespoon smoked paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1½ tablespoon sea salt
preparing the pork belly
- Place the pork belly on a cutting board with the skin side up. Cut diagonal lines through the fat with the tip of your knife and then slice lines diagonally the opposite way. Make sure to not go too deep. If you cut into the meat you risk the juices escaping and the meat becoming dry.
- In a mortar combine the spices with the salt and crush with the pestle. Rub the mix all over the pork belly.
- Leave to infuse for at least 2 hours uncovered in the fridge or best overnight.
- Once the spice rub has infused long enough place it on a wire rack sitting on top of a roasting tray (or you can do this over the kitchen sink).
- Bring a small pot of about 1 litre (4⅓ cups) water to a boil. Use a ladle and pour the hot water one by one over the skin. Thoroughly pat dry the skin with a paper towel.
- Add olive oil to the surface of the roast and season again with sea salt. Rub in the salt between the splits of the scored skin this is another important step to help achieve that crackling.
cooking the pork belly
- Keep the pork belly on the same wire rack sitting on a roasting tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 190°C (375°F) for 30 minutes.
- Increase the temperature to 220°C (425°F) and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the skin is completely crisp. Leave the pork belly to rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.