Slow roast pork belly with red cabbage
Anna Hansen of The Modern Pantry's warming winter recipe
Slow roast pork
- 2.5 kg piece of pork belly
- 200g table salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika (or ordinary paprika if not available)
- 4 star anise, crushed
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds crushed
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 potatoes
- Using a very sharp knife score the skin of the belly as finely as you can, being careful not to cut into the flesh too much. You just want to open the surface of the skin and the closer the scoring, the better the crackling will be.
- In a container large enough to hold the belly, put the salt, paprika, star anise, fennel seed and bay leaves. Pour in enough cold water to cover the belly and whisk it to dissolve the salt. Place the pork belly in the brine skin side down, and leave to soak for at least 24 hours (and up to 36 hours).
- If you do not have the time or inclination to brine the belly, grind the spices and bay leaves in a coffee/spice grinder and add 3 tbsp salt. Mix together and then rub the mixture over the belly. Marinate for 12 hours and roast as below.
- To roast, remove the belly from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place the belly in a parchment lined roasting tray flesh side down and add 200 ml of water and roast in an oven at 140C for about 1 ½ hours. Timing will depend on the thickness of the belly but it will take at least this long. You will know it is ready when a fork pushed into the flesh comes away easily.
- When the belly is ready, crank up your oven to 200C and leave for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. This should make the crackling bubble up and go crispy. A trick we use at the restaurant though, when the crackling refuses to behave itself which invariably it does when under pressure, is to heat up a heavy bottomed skillet with a little oil. When it is hot, lay the belly skin side down and it will puff up like a dream. If the surface of the crackling is uneven just press it down where it is not touching the pan.
- Carve the pork belly and serve. It goes wonderfully with braised red cabbage (recipe below).
Braised red cabbage
- 1 medium red cabbage sliced
- 1 white onion sliced
- zest and juice of 1 small orange
- 2 bramley apples grated with skin on
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp ground allspice
- 250 ml cabernet sauvignon vinegar or good red wine vinegar
- 200 g soft brown sugar
- 300 ml apple juice
- Put all ingredients into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and mix thoroughly.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes then reduce to the lowest setting.
- Leave to simmer stirring every ten minutes or so for about 30 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Check the balance of acid to sweet and adjust to your taste.
Chef's note: "My Mormor would also add plum juice, which she made every year, to give the cabbage extra fruitiness. You could add a slosh of Ribena concentrate if you don't happen to have any home-made plum juice lurking around in your pantry. Just be mindful of its sweetness."