Twice-cooked pork belly with toffee-crisp crackling

Twice-cooked pork belly with toffee-crisp crackling

Dean Cambray

You can often buy salted pork belly from the butcher, but it is easy to do this yourself. Salting the meat draws out some of the moisture and really intensifies the flavour and colour of the meat. It also helps the skin to crisp up.

This dish requires a little planning, as you need to allow time for the initial curing and then slow-cooking. But it can be prepared to this stage ahead of time, and can then be very quickly cooked at the last minute. I think this dish looks amazing. I like to serve it with braised savoy cabbage with smoky bacon and a caramelised cherry and brandy glaze, both of which act as a foil to the richness of the pork.

Aromatic salt rub


Quantity Ingredient
500g rock salt
1 bunch thyme, chopped
1 bunch sage, chopped
1 bunch rosemary, chopped
2 oranges, zested
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground allspice
2kg piece pork belly, skin on
50g butter
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 leeks, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup white wine
2 litres good-quality chicken stock or water
olive oil, for frying


  1. To make the aromatic salt rub, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Place the pork on a rack set inside a container and rub the salt rub all over the meat, packing it on thickly. Set a small chopping board on top of the pork and weight it down (cans from the pantry will do the job). Transfer to the refrigerator and leave for 4 hours to cure. After curing, rinse the pork well under running water then pat it dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 120ºC.
  3. Heat the butter gently in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the carrots, onion, leeks and celery and sweat gently for 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the bay leaves, pepper, wine and stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Sandwich the pork between two sheets of baking paper, and place it, skin-side down in a deep roasting tin. Pour on enough of the boiling stock to immerse the pork. Cover the roasting tin, or weight the pork down with a wire rack. Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours, by which time the meat will be very tender. Remove from the oven and leave the pork in the liquid until cool enough to handle.
  5. Transfer the pork to a tray lined with a clean sheet of baking paper. Weight it down again using the board and cans. When completely cold, transfer the pork to the refrigerator and leave it overnight.
  6. When ready to cook, cut the pork into 8 cm x 8 cm portions. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry the pork pieces, skin-side down, for 4–5 minutes. The skin will quickly colour and crisp up. Turn and cook for 3–4 minutes on the other side, until golden brown. Serve hot from the pan with your choice of accompaniments.
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