Crackling Pork Roast with Fennel & Pear
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2kg Pork belly, skin on
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vinegar
3 Pears, quartered
2 tsp Fennel seeds
2 tsp Salt & pepper
2 tbsp Neutral oil
1 Carrot, rough chunks
2 stalks Celery, rough chunks
1 large White onion, rough chunks
5 cloves of Garlic
2 Bay leaves
5 Star anise
1 tsp Salt & pepper
660ml Pear cider
2 tsp Chicken stock powder, in 100ml of water
12 Baby potatoes, halved
2 Onions, 2 cm chunks
1 Butternut squash, 2 cm chunks
8 Baby carrots, scrubbed
2 sprigs of Thyme (Optional), leaves plucked
1 tsp Salt & pepper
2 tbsp Neutral oil, enough to coat
1½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1½ tbsp Corn flour, dissolved in equal parts water
Reserved braising liquid
Pork Rub Mix
Parboiling Pork Belly
In a big wok, boil the pork belly for roughly 10 mins until the skin softens enough to be poked and meat firms and shrinks a little. It does not need to be cooked through. Remove from heat and let it steam dry on a wire rack until room temp.
Score the underside of the pork belly (the meat) diagonally and rub the Pork Rub Mix generously into the cuts to season it.
Using a Chinese pork belly poker, or any sharp object like the tip of a paring knife, prick the skin of the pork belly vigorously for 5 mins, ensuring it pierces just into the fat layer.
Using a sharp knife, score the skin diagonally ensuring that each score is shallow enough only to just barely reveal the fat layer below. Do not cut into the meat or the skin will not crisp up. Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt onto the skin and rub it with your fingers evenly and into the cuts as well. After that, brush a layer of vinegar over the skin and let the skin air dry for 20 mins. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 °C with top & bottom heat and fan.
Combine all the Roasted Veg ingredients in a baking tray and toss to coat well.
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir fry carrots, celery, onions and garlic until onions start to turn slightly brown. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil while you prepare a deep tray for the Pork Belly. Ensure that the liquid is boiling before you transfer into the tray, otherwise the liquid will not simmer in the oven.
Quickly transfer the braising liquid into the deep tray and place the pork belly on top taking care to ensure that no liquid touches the skin, otherwise the skin will not puff up. Roast the pork belly on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour 30 mins. Add the tray of vegetables at the same time and roast for 15 – 20mins until tender.
After 1 hour 30 mins
Remove the Pork Belly tray and add the quartered pears into the braising liquid, taking care not to get the pork skin wet. Brush 2 tsp of oil onto the pork skin. Turn the heat to 210°C top heat with fan only, and place the pork belly back into the oven at the top rack for 5 – 10mins. Keep a close eye as the skin will puff and burn quickly as well. Remove the pork belly from the braising liquid and let it rest for 10 mins. Set aside the braised pear and carrots for garnish.
Strain the remaining braising liquid into a saucepan, adding back any strained star anise and bay leaf along the way. Heat over med heat. Add the mustard & corn flour water and whisk continuously until the liquid thickens and bubbles lightly about 5mins. Transfer to a gravy bowl for serving.
Garnish the Pork Belly with the braised pears & thyme. Serve a slice of belly with roasted veggies and pear gravy.