This recipe uses my favourite cut of pork, the belly. It’s easy to cook, you can pack it full of flavour and the end product is so juicy and tender my mouth waters just thinking about it! The end result will be better if you start preparing your piece of meat a couple of days in advance so be prepared for that.
I had the use of an outside kitchen with a really cool BBQ which was fitted on to two old car jacks. This meant I could raise the cooking platform away from the heat and cook this beautiful bit of meat slowly over wood and coals. The only thing it didn’t have was a lid and so it did take a long time to cook!
It’s just as easy over a conventional BBQ though – gas or solid fuelled – just make sure that your BBQ has a cooler zone not directly over ther heat source.
Serves 4 (with plenty to spare!)
- 1kg Pork belly, skin-on (preferably with bone)
- 30g Maldon sea salt
- 20g Fresh rosemary
- Olive oil
- Firstly, we need to ensure that the skin of the pork belly is as dry as possible using some kitchen roll.
- Next, on a meat board, using a very sharp knife or a stanley knife, score the skin diagonally across the piece of meat. The aim is to cut right the way through the skin, but to leave the flesh and most of the fat intact – this may take a bit of practice!
- Turn the meat 90 degrees and score the meat again so your cutting into the skin perpendicular to the first scores. Set the meat aside while you prepare your rosemary rub.
- Pick all of the leaves from the rosemary ensuring you discard any woody bit of stalk and place in a small food processor. Place 20g of the Maldon into the processor alongside and whizz it until it’s well combined and you have a sort of rosemary salt. Turn the pork belly skin side down on the board and rub this rosemary salt all over the flesh ensuring that you push it in to all of the cracks and crevices.
- Place the meat, scored skin facing up, into a tall-sided dish. Rub the remaining salt all over the skin, again, making sure you work it well into the scores. Place this into the fridge, uncovered, for 24 – 48 hours. This gives the skin time to dry out, so that you can produce great crackling and also allows for the rosemary salt rub to penetrate the meat.
- When the meat is ready for cooking and your BBQ is up to temperature, rub the skin liberally with the oil and place the meat, skin side down onto the grill. This part of the cook wants to be at a moderate temperature, the skin wants to crisp up, but it doesn’t want to burn so keep an eye on it. Move the meat around a bit as well so that it crisps nice and evenly.
- After about half an hour, the skin should be golden and crispy and ready for the slow cook of the remaining meat. Flip it and seal the fleshy side of the meat.
- Move the meat away from the heat source onto the cooler section of the BBQ – it’s at this point I added the wood to give the meat an additional wood-smoked flavour. Close the lid of the BBQ and cook slowly for approximately 2 – 2.5 hours checking every half hour or so to check it’s not cooking too quickly.
- The meat is cooked when the juices run clear (although I don’t mind eating pork a little pink) and has a firm sponginess when prodded. If you have a meat probe or digital thermometer, the temperature I cook it to is just over 60 C.
- Remove it from the grill and allow it to rest somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to eat, remove the rib bones from the underside and carve into thick, juicy steaks.
Serve this as a BBQ centre piece and I promise, people will come back!