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May 17, 2011
crisp pork belly

A nice layer of meat, a nice layer of fat, another nice layer of meat, another nice layer of fat and shatteringly crisp skin.

nce upon a time, in a far off land, not so long ago, you could only find pork belly hanging in windows in Chinatown or found on Korean menus. Now, every menu aspiring to be gastronomic chic showcases pork belly prepared in many fashions.  Every scallop in town wants a punch on pork belly’s dance card.  The humble piglet’s tummy has finally been given the attention it most certainly deserves.

The key to the recipe below is alternating between two different cooking temperatures. The alchemy involves the pork skin slowly crisping to a magnificently crunchy and crackling top layer.  As the fat from the individual tiers dissolve, it is essential to baste the pork continuously so not to underestimate the slowly caramelizing onions underneath. The sweet, spiced glaze serenades the taste buds with a melt in your mouth feeling. After licking your lips, you are left wanting more.

1 piece pork belly, boned, rind left on and scored with razor or sharp knife.
2 tsp olive oil
3 large yellow onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp clear honey
1 tablespoon garam masala

Heat oven to 320F. Lay the pork, skin-side up, on a rack in a roasting tin. Brush with a little olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly milled pepper. Place in the oven, then cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and baste with the juices. Continue to cook for another 1½ hrs, basting every 20 minutes or so.

Put the sliced onions in the roasting tin under the pork. Mix the honey together with the garam masala, brush it over the pork, and increase the oven temperature to 390 F.  Cook for another 30-40 mins, basting occasionally, until caramelized with a rich, golden glaze over the pork. Once cooked and tender. Remove pork from the oven, then leave to rest for 10-15 mins.

While the pork is resting, heat the tin on the stove with the onions, adding 2 tbsp water. This will lift any residue from the pan, creating a moist, cooking liquid. Season the onions with salt and pepper, then divide between six plates.

Cutting the crackling off the pork makes the meat ready to snap into deafeningly crispy shards of crunchy delight.  Cut the pork against the grain into serving pieces, which will be meltingly juicy. Serve with salad, veggies, or make a scallop’s day.
Serves 6

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