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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Hoppy Pork Belly

Enjoy the rich pork belly taste with a perfect blend of festive and seasonal flavours.

A plate pork belly slices • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2022

Pork belly is a very popular cut of fatty pork in Australia. It is commonly slow-roasted like a pork roast, with a hardened rind cooked at high temperatures before or after cooking. This is called the “crackle”. It was not a typical roast dish served at home in my Québec life, but pork belly is also traditionally used. It is salt-cured to make streaky bacon (the most common type in America), salted lard (used in a slow-cooked dish like baked beans) and "Oreilles de Crisse" (housemade crispy pork rind). All of these are served in Sugar (Maple) Shack traditional banquets. After tasting some roasted pork belly in Aussie local restaurants, I thought of giving it a go at home. It took me a few times to get the crackling right. Not that I like to eat that crackled skin part so much (what?) and the fatty part (what?), but I like the cooking challenge, and this was one! A good tip for success is that the skin has to be scored, patted dry, and rubbed with oil and salt. When I am looking for a pork belly piece, I try to find one with more meat than fat, as those who know me will know, I don’t eat fatty bits in meat. However, that fat brings a fantastic taste…! And to make it even better, I have experimented with this recipe with a mix of flavours that goes perfectly together with pork: onion, garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary from the garden, maple syrup and a bitter beer!


Festive and seasonal flavours • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021


There are many flavourful varieties of craft beers, and I have found some good ones to make this pork recipe locally. To Snowy Valleys and Riverina locals, try the Tumut River Brewing Co.’s “Deliverance”, “Full Grunt” or any malty ales.


RECIPE


INGREDIENTS:

1 kg free-range pork belly (rind scored or pieces sliced by the butcher*)

1 onion, sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

Fresh little bunches of rosemary and thyme

2 tbsp olive oil

1 ale beer (330ml)

1 cup of water

1 tsp salt


*They are sometimes sold pre-scored, but you can ask your butcher to score it if you are unsure. I personally prefer having the piece all pre-sliced by the butcher.


PREPARATION: Preheat oven at 230C/445F (conventional)*

In an oven-safe dish, make a bed of onion, garlic and herbs and pour maple syrup over it.

Add the pork on top of the bed, skin side up, and pat dry the skin well with a paper towel.

Rub the skin top with oil and salt.

Cook for 30-40 min at high temperature to crack the rind.

Remove from oven and lower temperature to 180C/350F.

Pour the beer and water around the meat, not over the skin.

Put the dish back in the oven to bake for 1 1/2 hours.

To finish the crackling, if needed, broil* for 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye so it does not burn.

Rest for 10-15 minutes, cover with foil before cutting pieces, and serve as preferred.


*Aussie conventional ovens I have used so far do not have the “broil” option but have a top compartment with a top grill that does pretty much the same finishing. You can also raise the temperature again and cook it another 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it until the crackling looks ready.

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