moro top ten: roasted pork belly with fennel seeds

“one of those magical combinations – our customers adore it”

this recipe, from the original moro book, has inspired many  of my roasted pork belly dishes but i don’t think i’ve ever followed the recipe exactly. 

so, how did i get on?

i had a 500g piece of belly (which looks very small in the picture above) which was a great size for two of us. the recipe talks about cooking the pork at a high temperature to blister the skin and create the crackling. i always take this approach but this time i kept the oven on high until all of the skin was crunchy - often there is a little patch in the middle which doesn’t crisp up in time but i usually decide not to worry as it will sort itself out over the rest of the cooking time but inevitably this doesn’t happen which means i then need to remove the crackling and flash it under a hot grill while the meat is resting. making the effort to keep the oven on a high temperature until all the skin crackles is something i will do in future as it definitely worked well this time.

the final verdict:

would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the moro top ten? yes.

would i try this recipe again in the future? yes – it’s a delicious way to cook belly pork (fennel and pork is one of my favourite flavour combinations) and if i can get the crackling right every time i will be thrilled.

moro’s roasted pork belly with fennel seeds (serves 4-6)

1.5kg pork belly in one piece, skin on and scored

2 garlic cloves, crushed with a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds

1 tablespoon olive oil

150ml fino sherry or white wine

a splash of water (optional)

sea salt and black pepper

mix the garlic with the fennel seeds and run over the flesh of the belly. place on a large board, skin side up, and dry the skin thoroughly. generously sprinkle with fine sea salt (about 1 tablespoon) all over the scored skin. leave for half an hour, then dust off excess salt.

pre-heat the oven to 230c.

transfer the pork to a large roasting tin greased with the olive oil and place in the hot oven on the top shelf. it is important that the oven is really hot to start with, as this intense heat is required to blister the skin and turn it into crackling. roast at this high heat for a good 30 minutes until hard crackling has formed, then turn the heat down to 190c. transfer to a clean roasting tin (i didn’t do this, i just poured off the fat that had been released but as a result i didn’t make the gravy as the bits on bottom of the tin were a bit burnt). continue cooking for another 2-2½ hours until the meat is soft and tender. remove from the oven, transfer to a chopping board and leave to rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered with the foil to keep warm.

meanwhile, make the gravy. pour off any excess oil and place the roasting tray on the hob on a low to medium heat. deglaze with sherry or white wine, scraping the juices off the bottom of the pan as you go. simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce the alcohol, then taste for seasoning. if it tastes too strong, add a splash of water. keep hot and serve with the pork.