Chef - Tom Hunt
Ark of Taste Product - Oxford Sandy and Black
Producer - Plum Pudding Pigs
''Pork belly is a massive treat for any health conscious individual, and worth every ounce of naughtiness. Cooked well, the crackling crackles and the fat melts creating an intense sensory experience. At Poco we rub fennel into the skin and give a fresh squeeze of lemon to finish the dish. This freshens it up, cutting through the fat. We cook meat on the bone as it protects the meat and helps it to stay succulent. Pork belly as a cut, is not only marvellously savoury and wholesome but cheap. It is one of the thrifty cuts that still holds a better price than a loin or other more sort after parts of the hog. Importantly this enables us to buy organic. With such a simple dish the quality of the meat is paramount to the finished plate.'' Tom Hunt
– If possible get your butcher to score the skin of the pork. If you would like to do this yourself; the best option is to dig around in your tool box and find a stanley knife. Change the blade or at least sterilise it with boiling water. Place the belly firmly on a large chopping board, make sure that its sturdy and not going to slip. Score the whole belly in lines about 5mm to 1cm apart. Make sure you don’t score to deep. The cut should make it through the skin but not through the fat. Place the meat on a large baking tray.
– Preheat the oven to 250°C.
– Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan till they begin to crackle then put them in the pestle and mortar and grind till there partially ground down but leave a little texture.
– Now rub the fennel with a generous sprinkle of salt deep into the belly and the scores, driving the salt into the fat. This will give us superb crackling. Rub the underside of the belly with the seasoning too.
– Put the belly in the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes then check. The crackling should be bubbling up by now, and the skin should be light brown in colour. If its not too dark keep the belly at this temperature for another 5 to 10 minutes to really bubble up the skin.
– Turn the oven down to 170°C for another 25 – 35 minutes. Check the belly is cooked by inserting a knife into the centre of the belly. hold it there for 20 seconds and then withdraw the knife. Touch it to the back of your hand. If its hot then it is ready.
– Allow the meat to cool; enough to handle. Turn upside down and carefully remove the bones. Feel the bones with the knife and work your way around them until they’re completely removed. Don’t worry about leaving some meat on the bone as it can be made into a soup or stock or make our dish white bean and pork belly stew. Cut the belly into slices or cubes.
Serve with roasted fennel and turnips and a squeeze of lemon.