Cracking roast pork belly

Cracking roast pork belly

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

The popularity of pork belly has almost outstripped supply. Once the domain of the cheap-cut brigade, it is now a highly prized piece of meat. And rightly so, as the wonderful richness of the pork, the meltingly seductive juiciness of the fat and the crunch of a well-cooked crackle leave most people in a state of engorgement!

When cooking pork belly, more is much better than less. The leftovers can be used in so many ways. If you can, pre-order the pork belly and ask for it to be cut from the rib end of the whole belly, rather than from the soft, boneless stomach end, as you can use the bones to make excellent stock. Also, ask the butcher to hang it for a day so the skin dries out a little – this will help make a great crackle. If this isn’t possible, just leave the pork belly uncovered in the fridge overnight, making sure nothing comes into contact with it.

Serve the pork and veg with some salsa verde and a simple green salad of wild rocket and lemon juice.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 3kg pork belly
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon salt
2 bulbs fennel, outer layer removed
4 waxy potatoes, peeled
2 green apples
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
bunch thyme
6 garlic cloves
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Using a small sharp knife, make cuts about 2 cm deep through the skin and fat of the pork belly and into the meat, as close together as possible. Place the fennel seeds and salt in a mortar and pound with a pestle into a fine powder, then rub into the cuts and skin of the pork belly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Slice the fennel into wedges, the potatoes into thick slices and the apples into thirds, removing the core. You want the pieces to be around the same size. Toss with a little olive oil to coat, and add the thyme and garlic.
  4. Line a roasting tin with baking paper. Arrange the fruit and vegetables in an even layer, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Position the pork belly on top, then place the tin in the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes, to set the crackle, then reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Check the fruit and vegetables during the cooking time and give the tin a little shake so they cook evenly. If they are cooked before the pork, remove them from the tin and keep them to one side, rewarming to serve.
At Home with Ben
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