Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Southern Barbecued Pork Belly

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.


  1. We dined on this at a friend's house at the weekend - including BBQ. It was delicious!

  2. pour honey on it after the BBQ...

  3. I made this for a BBQ with friends recently and it was fabulous. I did change it slightly though as the idea of cooking pork belly without crackling is a travesty in my eyes.

    Instead, the previous night I cut slits in the rind at around 1cm spacing's (also makes it easier to slice and serve once cooked) making sure to cut through the skin into the fat but not to pierce the meat. I then rubbed a handful of salt into the skin side only (you need to be quite vigorous - think sports massage rather than a foot rub for the wife!) making sure to get into the slits. Then I put a couple of tablespoons of salt in a plastic dish, laid the pork skin side down and left it in the fridge overnight.

    In the morning there was a good amount of liquid in the bowl which had been drawn out of the pork fat - this helps to make crispy crackling :) I have it quick rinse to get rid of the salt, thoroughly dried it with paper towels, again making sure to get in the slits and take away as much moisture as possible. After that, I gave it half an hour to air dry and then added the rub as in the recipe (although this was done before work so it sat in the rub for around 6 hours).

    I also changed the cooking slightly - initially I put the oven as high as it would go and once up to temperature I popped the pork in. After 20 - 30 minutes the skin had started to bubble and blister so I turned it down to 170 for 2 hours. I then put a bowl with about 1cm of water in the oven with it and left it for another 45 minutes.

    It then went on the BBQ - there was a lot of socializing going on so timings are a little vague, but it's almost impossible to overcook unless you burn it. It got a good browning over direct heat - 10 mins or so with regular turning then left in the BBQ away from the direct heat with the lid on for probably another half an hour.

    The spice mix is gorgeous and the pork was juicy with really crispy crackling - just as it should be!

    When it came out of the oven it looked great but after a while on the BBQ it was amazing!

    1. Mike, that is the best and most informative comment I have ever received - thank you! We are going to have to try it again and do it your way, that sounds immense. There's still a good month or so of barbecue season, right?


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