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Twice Cooked Pork Belly

Twice Cooked Pork Belly

The other week I received a rather curious comment from my husband. He said he wanted to learn to make pork belly.

“You aren’t ready.” I told him. I thought that a good pork belly, the one with really crispy crackling combined with melt in your mouth meat and a rich gravy was something only experienced cooks attempted.

But he insisted to make it for dinner and I said, knowing the failure to come, that I would have nothing to do with making the dish.

So off he went to buy the pork belly and every so often I’d get a text asking for advice. “What knife to use to score the pork belly? Knife not sharp enough??” or “Where is the thyme in the garden?” and “How do I turn on the oven?”. The questions were getting scarier and scarier and so I chose to ignore the messages and decided to go with plan B, and buy take away.

I knew I had made the right decision when I got home a few hours later. The kitchen counter was as clean as I had left it that morning and I thought that He must have aborted the project mid-way. I was impressed though that he had cleaned up.

Come dinner time however, he pulled this big slab of pork belly from the refrigerator and started portioning the meat into generous servings, ready to crisp the pork skin in the oven.

“Uhm, where’d you get that?” I asked him. Surely he didn’t make it. Did he?

Turns out, you can pretty much learn how to cook anything from You Tube. He had found a video of Gordon Ramsay making a twice cooked pressed belly of pork and proceeded to make his own. What can I say – I was humbled. It was exceptional. He even made a gravy and cauliflower and apple mash to go with it!

I learned a lot of things from my husband that day. First, when someone says you can’t do something, challenge it. Second, never underestimate a person’s abilities and third and most important lesson – my husband makes a mean pressed belly of pork!

Gordon Ramsay’s Pressed Belly of Pork

  • 1 kilo of pork belly (ribs removed), scored – it is easier to ask your butcher to do this
  • 2 bulbs of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • White wine (enough so that it covers the roasting pan during the cooking process plus a little more to deglaze the pan when done)
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160c (fan forced, add 20c if the oven is not fan forced)
  2. Season the pork belly generously with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  3. Place the garlic in a roasting pan and the thyme on top of the garlic. Place the pork belly on top of the thyme.
  4. Cook the pork belly for 2 hours. When done, remove and set aside to rest.
  5. Place the roasting pan over the stove top (be careful as the pan will still be hot. Deglaze the roasting pan with a generous splash of white wine and allow to reduce by for around 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and allow to reduce the liquid by half. Sieve the sauce into a pan, making sure to press the garlic through the sieve as much as you can so the sauce is infused with the garlic. Set aside
  6. Place the pork on a tray and place another tray on top of the pork belly. Press down on the top tray and place some weights (i.e. some cans from your pantry) on top of the tray to weigh it down. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  7. When the pork is ready, pre-heat the oven to 240c (fan forced). Slice the belly of pork into 4 to 6 portions of smaller squares and cook for around 15 minutes until the skin crisps. While the pork is cooking, heat the gravy. To serve, place the pork on a bed of cauliflower-apple mash and pour the gravy around the pork.

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Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

I once challenged my husband (then boyfriend) to a food contest. We were planning a dinner and I told him that we both should come up with our own menu and get my Mom to judge which was better. He had very simple tastes (then) and I since I would pour over food magazines during my spare time – it was a no brainer who would win. I can’t even remember what his menu was (nor could I remember mine) – but I do remember how excited he seemed and how serious he was taking the challenge. I took one look at his “entry” and in a moment of kindness I decided that I would let him win. I liked that he tried hard and was I excited to see him passionate about food (for once). When he wasn’t looking I snuck to where my Mom was and told her that we were having a competition on who could make a better menu and whatever happened – to please say that he had a better menu.

I regret doing this now.

He has never let me forget that he won the menu challenge. No matter how many times I tell him it was rigged, he insists that he won.

To this day we have these menu competitions. The last one was about a month ago when we had dinner at Duke’s Bistro in Darlinghurst.  One dish we shared were these slow cooked beef ribs with mustard sauce, daikon and some shiso served with mandarin pancakes – like how you would serve peking duck. We both loved the idea of the pancakes and thought wrapping something other than peking duck was genius.  “Can you come up with something better?”  He asked.

“Challenge accepted.”  I told him.

On pieces of paper we wrote what we thought would go best with the pancakes…

Can you guess whose idea the roast pork belly was?

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Easy Crispy Chinese Roast Pork Belly

This is the first part of two. The dish is served with some Mandarin pancakes, spring onions, and cucumbers. I’ve used sriracha sauce although a spicy Chinese mustard sauce would also work well. The secret to the crispy skin is to make sure it is completely dry before roasting. To ensure the meat is moist, roasting over a pan of water does the trick. I’ll post the Mandarin Pancake recipe next.

  • 600 grams pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  1. Score the pork belly lengthways (or ask your butcher to score the skin for you). Place the pork belly skin side up, on a plate and on top of the kitchen sink. Boil around three cups of water and pour this over the pork belly. Pat the pork belly dry and place on a plate in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the paste by mixing the salt, five spice, garlic and caster sugar – using a mortar and pestle or food processor until the mixture resembles a rich dark brown paste.
  3. Once the pork is ready, place this on a chopping board, skin side down, and cut through the flesh, making sure not to cut through the skin. You will need to rub the spice paste all over the flesh, including the crevices and sides. Make sure not to rub any paste on the skin.
  4. Place the pork belly on a rack and place this back into the refrigerator to allow the skin to dry, at least four hours, or overnight.
  5. To cook the meat, remove the pork belly from the refrigerator. Bring the oven to 220 c (fan forced). Fill a deep baking tray around half way with water and place a wire rack over this. This will keep the pork flesh moist while the skin crisps up. Place the tray and rack in the oven and put the pork belly (skin side up) on top of the rack. Roast the pork for 20 minutes at this temperature and then drop the temperature to 180 c for 30 minutes. Finally, take the temperature up to 230 c for 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and rest for around 10 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and serve with Mandarin pancakes.
Chinese Roast Pork Belly and Mandarin Pancakes

Chinese Roast Pork Belly and Mandarin Pancakes

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