The perfect pork belly is all about the contrast between crunchy, snappable strips of crackling, and delicately soft meat underneath. But how to get the former without overcooking and drying out the meat, or the latter without ending up with tough, chewy, unappealing skin? Follow these simple rules and you’ll be serving up flawless pork belly to an eager crowd.
Step-by-step guide to the perfect roast pork belly
1. Cracking the crackling
To get the perfect crackling, the skin needs to be as dry as possible. Keeping the joint in a cold, dry fridge overnight will help the drying process, and keeping it uncovered will ensure no condensation forms. Scoring the skin increases the surface area exposed to the heat of the oven, so that more of it crisps up, and not scoring too deeply prevents any meat juices from bubbling up and making the skin soggy.
2. Matter of degrees
Bringing the meat to room temperature before roasting is important with a large piece of meat – it ensures even cooking throughout, preventing the outside from over-cooking and drying out before the inner meat is fully cooked.
3. High time
The blast of high heat at the start of roasting lifts the rind from the meat, moving it away from the moisture rich meat and keeping it dry for crackling to form.
4. Rest assured
Resting the pork belly will allow the juices to thicken and then redistribute within the meat, meaning they won’t all flood out when carved.
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