There are very few proteins that garner as much support and hero worship…and conversely as much controversy and disdain as pork. There are entire websites simply dedicated to bacon and spare ribs. There’s nothing more awesome than bacon on a Sunday morning whilst nursing a hangover. Bacon burgers and rib sandwiches. What else could be better?
I posted on Twitter the other day a tweet about what I was making for a function I had been hired for. One of the proteins on the menu was sticky pork belly. For some reason this rather simple cut of meat seems to be one of the hardest for people to get right. You over cook it, the skin in the outside gets tough and chewy. You undercook it and you’re stuck with an overly fatty piece of meat that is unappealing to the eyes.
There are many ways of cooking pork belly. Some love the outside crackling to be crispy and crunchy, this recipe is for a soft and sticky belly. You can achieve a crispy crackling by raising the temperature of the oven to maximum temperature for 10 minutes at the end of cooking. I don’t do this though because it often burns the sugar in the honey and makes for a bitter final product.
Unlike my other recipes, this one doesn’t have quantities but more of a rough guide. The reason being is that each pork belly is different in size, weight and amount of meat and fat. So use your discretion. I used to tie the pork belly (called trussing) with thick rope before but if you fold the belly correctly you won’t need to do this. It’s a bit of a schlep to untie the ropes once the belly is cooked.
– Honey – 500ml
– Wholegrain mustard – small jar (225g)
– Dijon Mustard – Tablespoon
– Fresh rosemary – handful
– Fresh thyme – handful
– Fresh crushed garlic – 2 cloves
– Olive Oil – 1/4 cup
– Hoison sauce – 2 Tablespoons
– Teriyaki sauce – 2 Tablespoons
– Coarse sea salt – 1 Teaspoon
– Crushed pepper – 1 Teaspoon
– Chop the garlic and herbs together.
– Mix in all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
– Flatten the pork belly, with a sharp knife cut gashes into the fatty side and rub the mixture into the skin and meat on both sides.
– Let the belly rest in the marinate/rub over night or for 12hours minimum.
– Heat your oven to 220°C
– Fold the belly into a log, skin side on the outside. You can choose to tie it with a rope or, like I do, simply keep the folded end down and press the belly down. Make sure it’s tightly folded. It shouldn’t unravel as it cooks but it isn’t a trainsmash of it does. Unless you’re a chef and trying to go for presentation don’t stress about trussing it.
– Grill in the oven (have the top element on) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and sticky on the outside. Don’t worry if it looks underdone, pork can still be slightly pink and it will carry on cooking outside of the oven in its own heat. Don’t overcook it. Please, whatever you do, if you really worry that it’s underdone then wrap it in foil and seal it in a casserole dish. It’s own heat will finish cooking it.
– You can choose to cut the belly into cubes and plate it like I have in the picture or cut it into slices.