Roast thick end of pork belly with coriander and fennel crackling
This cut of pork is fantastically forgiving. It’s quite fatty, which means you can keep cooking it until the crackling reaches a point of exquisite crunchiness without fear of the meat drying out. The wonderfully aromatic flavour of the coriander and fennel seeds really enhances the flavour of the pork. If you’ve got one or other of the spices but not both, that’s fine.
Put the coriander and fennel seeds in a mortar and bash lightly with the pestle a few times. You don’t need to grind them to a powder, just crack them a bit to release the aromas.
If the butcher hasn’t already scored the skin of the meat, do it
yourself with a sharp knife (a Stanley knife works very well). Rub the skin with salt, pepper and a little more than half the cracked seeds, getting the seasonings right into the cracks.
Scatter the remaining seeds into a roasting tin, put the meat on top and place in an oven preheated to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and cook for roughly 1½ hours, until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a skewer and the skin has crackled to an irresistible golden brown. If the crackling is reluctant, whack up the heat again, as high as you like, and check every few minutes till it’s done. Leave to rest, uncovered, in a warm place for 20 minutes.
Remove the crackling from the pork before carving, then cut the joint into thick slices and break up the crackling into portions. Serve with apple sauce, mashed potatoes and steamed greens or cabbage. Leftovers are equally delicious cold, with plenty of home-made fruity chutney.
- 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 piece of thick-end pork belly (the last 6 ribs), skin scored by -your butcher if possible
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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