Well, this is a signature recipe and a family favourite. It’s top shelf stuff… reserved for the very best and most special guests and occasions. A dish that we often ‘save’ for the winter months, when its imperative to give yourself permission to overindulge a little bit in account of the grey and wintery weather.
The truth is that to make the perfect belly you can’t follow a set recipe because every cut is unique and the time it takes to allow the skin to go perfectly crunchy and the meat to be succulent will depend on the thickness of the skin, the amount of fat and the consistency of both. We will simply provide you with a guide that is based on a few years of practice.
Step 1. Find a great belly! Our local butcher sources its pigs from local farmers and there really is a massive difference between a belly from a butcher, and a supermarket one… so if you have a butcher nearby, do pay him a visit! Our butcher is quite a character and his big ‘Home Killed Meat’ sign as you enter, still makes us chuckle a little every time. It is very common when we request a belly for his answer to be: ‘give me a few minutes as it’s still attached to the pig’!
We always ask for the thin end, as it cooks more evenly than the fat end and we ask for it to be scored as well.
We always ask for more than we’ll need as there is nothing better than having the leftovers the next day with some Mexican food or just a Toad in the Hole. The bigger the better…. Just make sure you have a heavy based roasting tin and an oven big enough.
Step 2. Heat the oven to 240 degrees centigrade.
Step 3. Stuff the grooves with whole cumin seeds.
Step 4. Pop it in the HOT oven on the top shelf. You need to keep it in the oven until the skin blisters. This can take any time from 40 minutes to 90 minutes so it is best to check it every 20 minutes after 40 minutes has passed.
Step 5. Once the skin has blistered take it out the oven and there should be some lovely gooey meat juice on the bottom. Scrape it off with a spoon and put it in a small pot for the sauce. While you’re doing this turn the oven to 170 degrees.
Tip: If the top is not perfectly crispy leave the oven on 180 degrees for a further half hour before turning it down to 170.
Step 6. Now sprinkle the rock salt on the top. Pop the belly back in the oven. leave it for around 3 to 4 hours. Check it every 30 minutes and baste the belly with the oil that melts out. Once ready allow to rest for a least 20 minutes.
The sauce / rue
Step2. Add a cup of hot water and vegetable stock cube, or stock if you have it.
Step 3. Add half a tea spoon of Dijon or whole grain mustard.
Step 4. Add a tea spoon of balsamic vinegar.
Step 5. Thicken the sauce with a tiny bit of cornflower mixed with cold water and add it to the sauce. Now taste it and make sure you are happy with it, balance if needed with salt and pepper.
If you are starting to think about Christmas, like us, and are considering trying something other than a Turkey, or want to have something to accompany your turkey… this is it… look no further. We promise this will blow your mind!!!