We often have a debate in the Dine at Mine household about who is going to write up the blog post for any recipe that we have tried. As loyal readers will have seen, it is Miss Dine at Mine who ends up authoring most of the posts, with the guest blogger Greedy Gusto only making the occasional contribution. This is not, as some readers have suggested, because Greedy Gusto's enormous stomach prevents him from pulling the chair close enough to the desk to reach the computer keyboard; or because the wireless keyboard that was purchased to solve this former problem has been permanently incapacitated by the endless precipitation of doughnut crumbs and Coke spray from Greedy Gusto's monotonously masticating mouth.
No, it is simply because Greedy Gusto generally has more interest in eating the food (of course) and taking the photos of the food, than writing it up. There have been occasions when Greedy Gusto found a recipe that was so deliciously simple that he had to share it with the world (who could forget the Royal Wedding shortbread or flapjacks?). But he's been waiting a while for a recipe to come along that so inspired him with the greed of its flavour, of its taste, even of its looks, that he has been forced to go out and buy a new keyboard and write it up on the world wide web for all to see. Ladies and Gentlemen, the wait is over, and I give you... Southern Barbecued Pork Belly.
We've had pork belly before, and we've roasted it slowly in the oven for a few hours, and it's been delicious. Lovely crackling on top, tender meat in the middle - it's hard to imagine doing anything better with the humble pork belly. So when Miss Dine at Mine suggested that we try Jamie Oliver's Southern Barbecued Pork Belly, I was distinctly dubious. Mostly because it involved cutting off the top layer of skin, so there would be no crackling! We found this recipe on his website, and I'm afraid I don't know which book it's from, but I'm guessing it's not from his 30 Minute Meals (given that it takes 2 hours in the oven).
Despite my concerns, as soon as we'd covered the pork belly in the spices, I could tell this was going to be special. It already looked and smelled delicious. When it came out of the oven, it looked and smelled even better. We tried a crispy morsel of pork that had been left behind at the bottom of the roasting tray, and the spice mix had infused it brilliantly. It was a bite of pork belly heaven. The rest of the meat was delicious; yes, a bit fatty (we didn't eat the main strands of fat that ran through the belly). But absolutely, completely delicious. On the "shall we make this recipe again?" test: an unequivocal yes! I mean, just look at the delicious photos. I'd better stop typing quickly before I drool over the new keyboard...
Southern Barbecued Pork Belly
From Jamie Oliver, recipe available here
Serves 6 to 8
- a handful of fresh bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons rock salt
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2kg pork belly in one piece, the best quality you can afford, skin removed
- olive oil
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
Bash the bay leaves and salt in a pestle and mortar until the leaves disintegrate and the salt turns green. We only had dried bay leaves, so we in fact just cut them up and added a bit of water to get the mixture going. Pick out any strands then add the rest of the spices and pepper and mix well.
Rub the spice mix with a little olive oil all over the pork - as you can see from the penultimate photo above, it'll look delicious. Transfer to a snug-fitting roasting tray and cover the tray tightly with foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours.
Jamie Oliver also says to light your barbecue after the pork has had 1 hour in the oven. We didn't do this, but if you have a barbecue and want to do the recipe properly, then it's time to get out the firelighters.
After 2 hours, lift the pork out of the roasting tray with tongs and drop it straight on to the barbie. It will crackle and drip fat on to the coals so don’t worry if you see a few flames. Turn the pork over and move it around the grill now and then for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp up the surface. Or... if you're not using the barbecue, just turn up the oven to crisp it all up for a few minutes. I wouldn't recommend putting it under the grill in the oven unless you want to test a) the smoke detector in your kitchen and b) the cleaning power of your oven cleaner.
Serve in thick slices. Greedily.