Monday, December 31, 2012

Roasted Pork Belly With Crackling

I have posted on roasted pork belly before but I'm posting on it again because this method gives even better results than the previous recipe. I think I have finally nailed roasted pork belly, right down to the crackling.

What I did differently this time was 1) cranked the oven temperature as high as it can go, upto 270 C with the fan on for one hour. It smoked up the house and the oven (hate cleaning greasy ovens so making roasted pork with crackling will be limited to very special occasions) and I advise you not to do it in a very enclosed house or one which is not well-ventilated. According to my butcher, the best crackling is made the traditional way, in an open coal fire built inside a large oil drum set in the open so that the smoke will dissipate easily. Like baking a pizza in a wood fired oven, the heat from an intense coal fire will puff the skin more than in an oven that can only go up to 270 C. 2) removed the rib bones so that the slab of pork can lay flat, thereby making sure that the heat hits the pork skin evenly. 3) used plenty of Maldon sea salt all over the skin. Plenty means the salt is very visible. 4) 'brined' the pork in cider vinegar for about 7 hours before roasting, to tenderize the meat, as taught by my friend Yoland.

Roasted Pork Belly With Crackling
4 to 4.5 kg medium lean pork belly, washed, skin shaved, bones removed
Maldon sea salt, plenty
3 T fresh chopped mixed hurbs such as tarragon, oregano, rosemary, sage
freshly ground black or white pepper
Cider vinegar (I used Braggs)

1. Place the pork belly, meat side up, on a large cutting board and rub salt and white pepper all over. Carefully turn pork over onto a large ceramic plate (the skin side up), then pour the cider vinegar all around the pork. Lift the pork up to let the vinegar seep under the pork so that the meat gets soaked in the vinegar. Pour enough vinegar to soak the pork upto 1 cm all around. Smear cider vinegar (I used the vinegar in the tray) all over the skin.
2. Put the plate of pork into the fridge, uncovered. The idea is to let the skin dry. Not too dry, or the skin will give crispy but hard crackling. I left my 4.5 kg pork belly on the third rack of my fridge for 5 hours, then poured away the vinegar because I didn't want the meat to be sour and returned the pork to the fridge for another 2 hours to dry. In between, dry the pork skin with paper towels if the skin looks wet.
3. Switch oven on, and fan on too (or off. Fan on will distribute the heat n crisp the skin better but it also fans oil all over the oven walls), to at least 250 C or preferably 270 C, about 15 minutes before putting the pork in.
4. Using a sharp knife, or a metal skewer, stab the pork skin all over, the more piercings the better. When done, use paper towels to dab dry the skin. Turn the pork over, and rub the herbs all over. If doing it Chinese way, rub a mixture of 5 spice powder and fermented red bean curd (nam yue) all over the meat.
5. Place the pork  directly on an oven rack in the middle of the oven, skinside up and sprinkle lots of sea salt all over the skin, making sure every inch of the skin is covered with salt, salt that is visible. Place a tray at the bottom rack position under the rack of pork and add enough water into the tray upto 1 cm to catch drippings (I didn't do this, I think this will help) and prevent smoking.
6. Roast the pork belly, skin side up, for 1 hour 10 to 15 minutes, with oven fan on. Very carefully, and with kitchen mittens, take the belly out of the oven and using a knife, scrape the top layer of crackling over the kitchen sink to remove the salt and any burnt areas.
7. Cut cooled pork to pieces and serve with apple sauce. Saurkraut is good too, to balance the greasiness of the meat.


Anonymous said...

oooh, I so want do this next... Happy NY !!

Mike C

terri@adailyobsession said...

hi mike! happy new year to you and your beautiful family! i didnt know tt you were back. next time, dont you dare not tell me, even if i am out of town, bc i can change my travel plans.

the roasted belly pork was such a hit tt one of my friends said it was the best he'd eaten. but rmber, altho the fan makes very puffed n light crackling, it blows oil n smoke all over the oven n into the house! you've been warned!

The Dead Cockroach said...

Have a blessed 2013!

ykristen said...

U r truly one talented mum, hosting dinner for 50, been following your blog for a while now. Here's wishing you and your fmly a Happy New Year.

Baby Sumo said...

Hi Terri, Happy New year to you! Your siew yoke looks mighty fine.. I love a good crackling. Used to make my own siew yoke but too lazy nowadays since we can get good ones so easily in KL.

Jasmine said...

Happy New Year, Terri! Wishing you and your family even more la dolce vita and joie de vivre in 2013!

missyblurkit said...

Oh yumms! I use the fish scaler to pound the skin. it seems easier than using the knife but to get it really deep, i normally get the men at home to help do the "stabbing".

blessed new year!

Unknown said...

Hi Terri! Thanks for sharing your recipe. May I ask how much of the skin do you shave off and how do you do it? Thank you!

jackie said...

Happy New Year Terri - it's been wonderful reading about your adventures the whole of 2012. Looking forward to more exciting stories and "hopefully" excellent "no-fail" recipes which you always provide.
Btw - have you heard of people using bicarb soda (mixed with salt) to get crispy crackling? Wonder if it works??

Best wishes for the new year!!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

cockroach: you too, happy 2013!
ykristen: wishing you n family a wonderful year too, thnx for youe kind words!
babysumo: i know, i'd rather buy than make my own siew yoke. but i think it's ok to make it once in a while as a main course. much cheaper. if only it doesnt mess up the oven.
jasmine: you too, have a wonderful 2013!
missy:i tried using a fish scaler but found it didnt poke deep enough. am thinking next time i'll use a sharp pointed metal skewer. yes, think tt'll work better than knife.
unkown: em, i just scraped the top layer with a knife, kind of like scraping burnt toast, breaking the bubbled skin. next time you see a slab of siew yoke, look closely n you'll see that the skin's been scraped.
jackie: happy new year to you n family too! no, never heard of bicarb for crackling. maybe tt's the secret to easy crackling? next time i make roasted pork with crackling, i'll rmber to patch test using bicarb:)

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Wow, this looks so much like from a shop. I want to try it sometime.

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Culinary Chinita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Culinary Chinita said...

Your original recipe was always a hit with my family, especially my in-laws. :-) But this modified recipe is definitely another step up to roast pork belly goodness. :-D

I followed your tips about drying in the fridge, and in my case I scored the skin with lines all over with a surgical knife (yes, I have one now for roast pork belly only :-D). I used a glass bowl convection oven cranked up to 270C lined with aluminum foil for easy cleaning. Will try the cider vinegar version next time. :-)

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