Belly Pork is wonderful when it is cooked to perfection with crispy, crunchy, crackling on the top. For this dish we managed to get hold of some local Gloucester Old Spot, an old rare breed pork. The older breeds of pork have a thicker layer of fat than the modern breeds. They also take longer to mature and be ready for market. However, the longer maturity and the thicker fat gives the meat a fantastic flavour and make great crackling. Serves 2.
- 2 pieces of belly pork, about 300g each
- First of all score the pork skin, and the underlying fat, with a very sharp knife or box cutter. I like to cut in a diagonal pattern.
- Rub salt into the cuts in the skin, and all over the skin. Put the pork on a plate, cover it, and put it into the refrigerator for a least a couple of hours. This will draw some of the moisture out of the skin and fat, and give a better crackle.
- Using kitchen paper wipe off any excess moisture form the pork, and rub more salt into the skin and cuts.
- Preheat your oven to 230°C/435°F, and place an oven shelf near the top.
- A little trick I use is to put a couple of small oven proof dishes in the cooking tray. These are curved, and I press the pork over these, and the curve helps to open up the cuts, which again gives a better crackle to the skin.
- Put the pork in the oven on the top shelf, and cook for 30-40 minutes, turning it around every 10 minutes or so, to ensure you have an even cook. Keep checking on the quality of the crackle - you want it crispy, but not burnt. The final cooking time will depend on your oven and the size of the pieces of pork.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed buttered cabbage, with a side of apple sauce.