Slow roasted pork belly with fennel and coriander crackling

Food & drink
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s slow roasted pork belly with fennel and coriander

A pork belly gives a lot of bang for buck.

It’s a cheap cut that benefits from simple, hands-off cooking.  A few herbs, some salt and pepper and a few hours in a low oven are all you need.

First, the joint.

A cut from the thick end of the belly weighing between 1 and 1.5kg is best, on the bone, the skin scored with a craft knife.  Your butcher should do this for you, and if he doesn’t or won’t,  you need to get a better butcher.

Next, the seasoning.

Grind two teaspoons of fennel seeds and three teaspoons of coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar.  The aim is to crack and break the seeds, not to grind them into a powder.

Sprinkle the scored skin of the joint with salt and pepper, and rub about half of the spice mix into the skin, pushing it deep into the score marks.

Place the joint in a roasting tin and pour the rest of the spices into the bottom of the tray, where they’ll flavour the fat that renders from the meat.

Start the roast at 220c for thirty minutes.  The initial blast of heat sets the crackling and guarantees a crispy finish.  Turn the heat down to 180c for another ninety minutes.

You could go lower, to 140 or 150c, and cook for longer, upwards of three hours.  No harm will come to the meat.

Let the joint rest for at least twenty minutes before removing the crackling in one piece and snapping into small pieces, and carving the meat into long, succulent strips.  The snap of crackling is one of the most satisfying sounds any kitchen can produce.

The bones should be left to cool, then sliced into small spare ribs and gnawed away with a good chutney or relish.

Serve the pork with mashed potato and a green vegetable such as cabbage or broccoli, in a vain attempt to balance the fattiness of the meat.

The vegetables are there only for show.  There’s no point pretending that this is a healthy dish, so you might as well undo this token nod towards healthy eating by spooning some of the delicious pan juices over the potato.

This method with pork belly comes form Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new book, River Cottage Every Day.

14 comments… add one

  • ivan maminta Apr 5, 2010

    I have tried this recipe, but with a different rub. I roasted the belly after rubbing the inside with crushed sage, black pepper corn and maldon salt, then spritzed with fresh lemon juice. The roast is then tied into a tight roll and roasted for about 40 minutes.

  • MaryMoh Apr 5, 2010

    mmmm….looks very delicious. Though I love to eat healthy, I don't mind an occasional indulgence…..the fattier, the better! This one just looks perfect for me.

  • Karen Apr 5, 2010

    Pork is definitely underrated. This looks divine. I love me some crackling!

  • Chris Nyles Apr 5, 2010

    just a few bites is all I need…
    yummmmmmmm!

  • Isabelle Apr 5, 2010

    I'm half tempted to lick my screen to see if that photo tastes as good as it looks. :) This is definitely going on the shortlist of recipes to try as soon as I can get my hands on all the ingredients.

  • Divina Pe Apr 5, 2010

    That looks absolutely amazing. Belly is my favorite part.

  • My Man's Belly Apr 5, 2010

    mmmmmm….pork fat. Nothing says fall like the smell of braised pork.

  • The Chickenless Chic Apr 5, 2010

    Sweet, sweet justification! http://www.slate.com/id/2219314/

  • lululu Apr 5, 2010

    last time i saw a stunningly beautiful roasted pork belly picture was from jamie oliver's cookbook. yours is very competitive!

  • wasabi prime Apr 5, 2010

    What a handsome looking meal. The spices look heavenly. I don't normally crave that fennel flavor, but for this, I'd be tempted to eat the whole thing!

  • foodycat Apr 5, 2010

    Hmmm – I have a pork belly joint in the freezer. I might follow your lead and change my flavourings for this one!

    • Coralie Dec 16, 2011

      Your answer shows real inetllgience.

  • Chris Thompson Apr 26, 2010

    Not one for messing about with a pork belly me, rub in some olive oil and maldon salt then good bit of heat at first followed by 130-140 for a long time with a bit of high at the end……… fantastic but now i will try this as i made some foccacia bread at the weekend put fennel seeds in the dough and let it mature overnight had it with a roast chicken which had been rubbed with oil and chili and paprika powder, sensational the fennel really came out in the bread in a way i didnt expect. Only really used it in currys before

  • Adrian Chance Jul 7, 2012

    Just looked this up for reference – comparing as I always do, four or five different recipes from both sides of the atlantic. HFW’s always reliable so I shall try this with the pork belly I bought earlier. It’s just occurred to me to brine it (probably should be longer than the 13 hours it’s going to get, but hey). It might have been Hugh or it might have been Nigel Slater – not sure but probably a Guardian influence anyway, some years ago, got me into brining, but it got me into brining. A little like the Mexican way with chicken – joint it, skin it and use a sugar, onion and vinegar rub for a few hours / overnight before casseroling it – or making a mole.

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