Slow roasted pork belly

Food & drink
How to slowly roast a piece of pork belly to produce tender meat and crispy crackling.

These are challenging times.

The talk at work is of mergers and takeovers, arrears and repossession, cost reduction and redundancy.

People are feeling the pinch.

A slowly roasted pork belly can’t fail to lift the mood. A cheap, easy and forgiving cut, pork belly is at it’s best when cooked lazily in a low oven, the fat allowed to melt away, the skin to crisp and the flesh to gently cook.

Preparation is simple. A one kilo joint will be enough for four, or two with enough left over for some first-rate sandwiches the next day, and maybe the odd late night fridge raid.

If the butcher hasn’t done it already, score the skin. This is vital if you want crackling, and there is no point cooking a pork belly if you don’t. A razor blade or craft knife is necessary. Even the sharpest, most expensive piece of finely engineered German steel will struggle where a cheap fifty pence Stanley knife blade will have no difficulty.

Make sure the skin is completely dry, then season it generously with salt, pushing some into the cracks in the skin, before laying the joint in a roasting tin on top of a couple of sprigs of rosemary and a few bay leaves, maybe some garlic cloves too.

Put the joint in a hot oven, at least 225c, and immediately turn the heat right down to 140c. This initial blast of heat is for the skin, and helps the crackling crackle.

Cook gently for three hours, then turn the heat down further to 130c and cook for another hour.

Check the crackling. If it isn’t to your liking, increase the heat again and continue to cook for another ten or fifteen minutes, until the required level of crispness is reached.

Let the joint rest in a warm place for ten minutes or so, before removing the crackling, carving the meat and serving. The meat will be tender and moist, the crackling crisp and crunchy, a bit too salty.

A slow roasted pork belly needs little attention, but it does need a lot of time, so much that you may need to arrange your whole day around cooking it. The kitchen will be filled with the irresistible smell of roasting pork.

Serve with something simple and straightforward, some steamed vegetables or a salad, with roast potatoes. Nothing too fancy.

This is a frugal dish, and the meat deserves to speak for itself.

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22 comments… add one
  • Jan Oct 29, 2010

    This looks so tasty! I have never cooked pork belly before but after reading your article I have just been and bought a piece from my butcher. Cant wait to cook it. Creamy mustard mash and cabbage it think will go a treat with it!!

  • Alex Mar 21, 2011

    Oh that photo is amazing. I love pork belly … I'm going to be thinking about this all day!

  • The Ample Cook Mar 21, 2011

    I've not had dinner yet so I now have more saliva than I know what to do with :o)Looks so appetizing.

    I agree with the cold leftovers – makes an amazing sarnie

  • Rob Mar 21, 2011

    The simpler pork is cooked, the better it is. Can't wait to try this, we've just ordered some pork bellies with our next veg box on Monday. Hopefully there'll be more purple sprouting broccoli. . . .

    (agree with Alex – crack(l)ing photo!)

  • curiousdomestic Mar 21, 2011

    I tried pork belly (not knowing what it was) at a fancy-schmancy place last year. I like pork and bacon, but what I got on my plate was absolutely hideous in my mouth. Greasy, fatty, not delicious at all. I've seen it on menus elsewhere, but even with patrons who reccommend it I can't bring myself to eat it again. Was it just some bad belly?

  • The Hungry Mouse Mar 21, 2011

    Oh my god, I would happily devote my day to slow roasting a pork belly. This looks just amazing. Wow.


  • Rico Mar 21, 2011

    delicious. slowly roasted belly, excellent photo. gratz

  • Tangled Noodle Mar 21, 2011

    I love crispy, crackly skin and moist, tender meat! This looks marvelous.

  • Sapuche Mar 21, 2011

    I agree: amazing photo. You're talking some of the best pork here, and you describe the roasting process very nicely. With your mention of salt, rosemary, bay leaves, and garlic, I'm starting to get a little crazy wishing I had some right now. Sounds like a real treat for a tight budget. Thanks for posting this!

  • Coconut Girl Connie Mar 21, 2011

    yes, wonderful picture. in Hawaii we love to buy our roast pork from the vendors in China town. Thick old chopping block, perfectly roasted pork belly, crispy skin….ono…delicious!

  • Alex Mar 21, 2011

    You can't beat a leftover sarnie!

    And, I agree – making a lump of meat (or gloopy sauce) look good (when they actually taste fantastic) is very tricky. Oh to have a food stylist on hand when I'm serving up.

    This looks great though!

  • Jen H Mar 21, 2011

    Man does that sounds delish!

  • Mike Mar 21, 2011

    Give me pork belly in any form, at any time of day, in any state of the economy. There's nothing better.

  • NIKKI Mar 21, 2011

    Thanks for this post. I had this in Germany and wanted to make it at home. Now I can. Looks scrumptious!

  • Just Cook It Mar 21, 2011

    Just been for a run and I think I might have undone all the good work just by looking at that picture. Just love belly of pork.

  • Anonymous Mar 21, 2011

    We've just had this for supper. It's the first time I've cooked pork belly, but my partner bought it at a farmers' market the other day. I was slightly put off when preparing it by the clear 'belly'ness of the pork (I think we could see its tummy button), but all leanings towards vegetarianism went out of the window once it was cooked; that dear old pig was absolutely gorgeous.

    Very simple and tasted blissful.

    Thank you!

  • Pete Mar 21, 2011

    Was looking for a slow pork belly recipe and went for this one – very pleased I did.

    I strayed a little from the recipe in two respects…

    Firstly I left the roast on 140 for 3 hours as recommended, but then gave it a further 2 hours at 130 rather than the 1 suggested.

    Secondly, having removed the roast from the oven, I cut the crackling from the meat, leaving the meat to rest, and putting the crackling under the grill to get really crisp.

    The result was delicious, thanks very much.

  • Gilly Jun 12, 2011

    i tried this last week and it was soooooo delicious i'm doing it again today and i know it will be even more delicious, mmmm can't wait for 5pm when its ready

  • Lorna Jun 18, 2011

    I can't help noticing that the meat looks a little dark. I always make a parcel of tin foil around the meat of the pork, leaving only the fat exposed so that the meat doesn't overcook.

    • rich Jun 18, 2011

      Good tip!

      In my defence, I fiddled around with the contrast of that photo to make it 'pop' a bit more, which made the meat look darker than it actually was.

      That said, I do like the edges to be crisp, a bit crunchy and ever so slightly overdone – a good counterpoint to the falling-apart-tender meat inside. All personal taste, though.

  • Becca Oct 4, 2011

    I’ve just bought a joint at the farm shop, after remembering my Dad cooking us belly pork for Sunday lunch. I’m going to do a bit of home made apple sauce to go with it too. I hope ours looks as good as the one in your picture, roll on tea time.

  • Jean Dec 17, 2012

    Any idea how long to cook an 8kg belly pork for?

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