There’s really not a lot an amateur photographer like myself can do to make a meal of mashed spuds, roasted pork and some roasted-to-within-an-inch-of-their-life veges look appealing. You’ll just have to believe me when I say this was the second-best pork belly I’ve EVER tasted, and the best I’ve ever cooked.
The BEST roasted pork belly I’ve ever tasted was from this gorgeous little restaurant in Rarotonga; if you’re ever on the island, you HAVE to go there for a candlelit dinner on the sand. The food is amazing (try the Ika Mata – an island specialty, of fresh tuna marinated in coconut milk and lemon, the roasted pork belly and the orange glazed lamb. I swear you’ll hear a choir of angels singing while you eat!), the staff are friendly without being annoying, and the wine is cheap cheap cheap.
The pork belly was so good that I cheekily asked for the recipe. The owner very kindly gave me the basics, which I amended slightly (as I tend to do), and the result was sublime. So good that Tall went back for seconds and ate what was supposed to be his lunch the next day.
Roasted Pork Belly with Jus – serves 3-4
1-1.5kg pork belly
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
2 onions, cut into large chunks
sprig of fresh thyme (or sage)
approx. 2/3 bottle of a nice white wine (golden rule: only cook with a wine you’d be prepared to drink!)
Preheat oven to 180degC.
Diagonally score the fat of the pork belly, and rub in the salt. For crispy crunchy crackling, use enough salt that it begins to fill the score marks.
Toss carrots, onions and thyme in a roasting dish. Place pork belly on top, fat-side up.
Pour in the wine so that it covers the meat of the pork, but not the fat.
Cover the dish with foil and roast for 2hrs, checking occasionally and adding more liquid (wine, water or stock) if it is looking dry.
Remove the foil and roast a further 1hr, until the crackling is crackly and the meat is tender. Rest for 10-15mins, then carve and serve with the jus.
To make the jus, pour all of the juices and vegetables from the roasting dish into a wide bowl or jug and pop in the freezer for 10mins to cool.
Remove from the freezer and scoop off the solidified fat. Strain the juices into a small pot and add the same amount again of water, and of liquid chicken stock.
Heat gently, stirring, until boiling; cook over a medium heat until jus has reduced by half and has thickened slightly.