When we were growing up my sister Dee used to say she couldn’t eat pork which tasted “hairy”. I think I know what she meant. If you’re going to serve pork with the skin it has to be crunchy. There’s nothing attractive about soft pork fat and skin.
Pork belly has become quite trendy in the last few years and there are lots of recipes on Google for different ways to cook it. Some are quite complicated, involving lots of ingredients. This is one of my favourite recipes for pork belly. It combines just two flavours with the pork – onion and apple – plus a few herbs.
1kg boneless pork belly with skin
salt, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 large onions
2 large green apples
¼ cup water
1 Tbs sugar
If the butcher hasn’t already done so, score pork skin all over in parallel cuts just under a centimeter apart, cutting through the skin only. Preheat oven to 160°C. Peel onions, cut into eighths and place in a roasting pan in the middle, like a nest. Rub pork all over with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Press herbs into the meat side. Place pork skin side up on the onions and bake for about 2 hrs. During this time do not baste. If after an hour or so you think the onions are starting to burn, take them out and put the pork back. You want them to be caramelised, but not overly so.
Meanwhile peel core and slice apples and place in a saucepan with water and sugar. Simmer for 10-15 mins until cooked. After 2 hrs, remove pork from oven and take it out of the pan. Tip off all the fat which can be kept and used for roasting potatoes. Turn oven up to 200°C. Mix onions with apples and place in the pan as before, like a nest, with pork on top. Bake for 30 mins or until skin is blistered and crunchy all over. Divide apples and onions between six plates. Cut pork into six neat squares or rectangles with a sharp heavy knife and place on top.