Rolled roast pork belly with thyme, fennel seeds and pistachio

Pork belly is by far, my favourite cut of pork. It’s too easy to end up with dry pork, but it’s just about impossible to achieve that with pork belly. The long cooking time allows the layers of fat to slowly melt, making for an incredibly tender roast. Plus you get crackling, – the best of both worlds.

I found this recipe on the web a while ago, but as things go, I can’t seem to locate it again. I’ve added pistachios to it, to add more texture and interest. This recipe recommends you prepare the roast and leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge. I wasn’t organised enough, so it sat with its marinade for all of 10 minutes, but still came out tasting great. It tasted better the following day, so I’m inclined to believe that you should let it marinate overnight.

2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large bunch of fresh thyme , leaves only
½ cup chopped pistachios
3 tbsp olive oil
1.5 kg piece pork belly (skin on), skin scored
2 lemons

Dry roast the fennel seed and peppercorns in a heavy pan for a minute or so, – monitor this carefully as it can burn. Transfer to a mortar and pound to a rough powder, then pound with some flaked sea salt, the garlic and half the thyme to make a paste, and mix with 2 tbsp olive oil.

Lay the pork on a board skin-side down. Rub the herby paste all over the flesh then scatter with the remaining whole thyme leaves. Sprinkle most of the pistachio, reserve some for serving. Roll the meat into a joint, then tie together with cotton string. Cover and leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

When ready to cook, rub the skin with plenty of salt and 1 tbsp remaining olive oil. Put it on a wire rack and roast at 200°C for 30 mins.

Squeeze the lemons over the skin, turn the heat down to 180°C and roast for another 2 hrs. Finally turn the heat back up to 220°C and give it a final blast for another 30 mins to finish the crackling. Allow to rest for 20 mins. Serve up thick slices, sprinkled with more chopped pistachios.

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