The ‘best Ben’s ever had’ roast belly pork and crackling

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The title says it all. Back of the net.

Some days all I think about is pork crackling.

This was a small piece that served three, but the method applies whatever the size of the meat, and works with shoulder of pork too.

1 piece of belly pork, skin scored

Sea salt, liberal quantities (about a dessert spoon)

I onion

Take the pork out of the fridge first thing in the morning. Boil a kettle, run the hot water over the pork skin, then take the pork out of the sink and wrap the whole thing in kitchen towel to dry it and get it to room temperature. The skin needs to be completely dry and the meat needs to be at room temperature before you start.

When you’re ready to cook, pre heat the oven to 220/ gas mark 8. Pat the skin completely dry and sprinkle on the salt, rubbing it into the skin scores as much as you can. Slice the onion, skin still on, into 1cm slices and place on a baking sheet as a platform for the pork. The pork goes on top and into the hot oven for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes turn the oven down as low as it will go (gas mark 1 for us) and cook for 5-6 hours. Then turn the oven back up to full for 20 minutes, getting the grill hot at the same time. Put the pork under the grill till the crackling puffs up, watching it very closely as it goes very quickly and will catch and burn if you’re not careful. The pork can rest while you finish up but it doesn’t need to because it’s been cooked so slowly.

The crackling will be crisp and crunchy with soft, tasty, chewy bits underneath, and the pork will be melting.

Make the gravy with the onion still in the tin. You’ll have to sieve the gravy at the end, but it gives the gravy a brilliantly deep colour and taste.

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