roast pork belly with fennel seeds and garlic

i can't believe i have never blogged about pork belly before. pork is my favourite meat by a long way and pork belly is probably one of my favourite cuts. all that fat - there is no way it could taste anything but great. amazingly enough, the gordon ramsay chefs we met at the loft said they cooked pork belly with goose fat - now you know why restaurant food tastes so good!

i have made this dish before when a friend came round for dinner but i generally don't blog about food i cook for other people - all that picture taking and faffing about detracts from just eating and talking.

the recipe is seriously simple but very very tasty. pork and fennel seeds is a classic combination and the addition of garlic makes it sing. i ate it with some baba ganoush (recipe to follow) and some thinly sliced cabbage and fennel tossed in olive oil and lots of wholegrain mustard.

for two

1.5kg piece of pork belly, bone in and skin scored
1tbs fennel seeds, ground finely in a pestle
2 cloves of garlic, crushed with a bit of sea salt
olive oil
sea salt

mix the crushed garlic with the fennel seeds and rub the flesh (not the skin) with mixture. dry the skin as much as possible and sprinkle with fine salt (about 1 tablespoon or so) and leave to rest for about half an hour. halfway through, heat the oven to 230C.

after half an hour, scrape off the excess salt and whack the pork in the oven on the top shelf and roast on high heat for 230C. reduce the heat to 190C and cook for another two hours or a little bit longer. you can grill for a couple of minutes to crisp up the skin if you want - but watch it very carefully as it can burn in seconds.

when done, take the pork out of the tin and put it on a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least ten minutes. you can make the gravy with the leftover fat in the pan - i didn't bother as i was too keen to get my chops around that crackling.


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