A rolled pork belly as opposed to an unrolled pork belly has several advantages; it’s more compact and so easier to get in the oven, it’s easier to carve and everyone gets a fair helping of crackling. Served with roast potatoes, sautéed veg and a good gravy it’s about as good as Sunday lunch gets.
For the pork
1.5 kilo rind-on pork belly
Bay leaves, thyme, whatever other herbs you like
For the potatoes
1kg floury potatoes
For the veg
Whatever you like; I sautéed some spring onions and apple, with a little mint added at the end.
To have a smart, well rolled pork belly we will need to trim it. Turn it skin side down and cut away any meat which has been cut from between the ribs, as well as any meat which is not strictly the belly. The parts you cut away can make a fine ragu or stew.
Do a test roll with the belly, you should be able to roll it into a cylinder with no gaps in between, without the skin overlapping. If when rolling it, the skin from one side is covered by meat from the other, I’m afraid you’ll need to cut some skin away. It’s a sad loss of crackling, but it’s for the greater good. Of the crackling.
When you’re happy with the overall shape of the belly, take an arts and crafts or Stanley knife and score to a depth of 0.75cm diagonally right the way across the skin. Take a good handful of sea salt and rub this into all of the cuts for a few minutes. This will draw out moisture and is good for the crackling. After about 30 mins, dry the skin with kitchen paper and rub in a little more salt for good measure.
To tie the meat, you will need some string. Roll the joint roughly to the shape you want and tie a knot around the middle. I was never able to do a butchers slip knot, so I just do a type of knot demonstrated by this annoying man.
Make sure the joint is tied at every 2-3cm, when done place it in a roasting tray on a trivet of onions, garlic, carrot and any herbs you see fit.
Roast this for 2.5 hours at 160 degrees. If the crackling has not reached critical crackling mass by this time, give it 10 more mins on 200 degrees.
Remove from the oven, place the meat on a plate and cover loosely with tin foil; allow to rest for one hour.
For the potatoes – peel and drop into cold water. Bring this to the boil and boil for just one minute. Drain the potatoes, return to the pan and put back on the heat to dry and fluff up; you can give them a good shake to encourage fluffing. Drop in a couple of tablespoons of beef dripping and get them well coated, transfer to a roasting tray, cover well with salt and roast for 45 minutes at 200 degrees, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile make the gravy; drain the fat from the pork roasting pan and put it on the stove. Add half a bottle of red wine and a liter of stock (if you braised ribs the day before you’ll have good pork stock). Let it simmer with the vegetables for 30 mins. When ready, add 2 – 3tsp cornstarch and whisk this in. pass through a sieve into a serving pan and keep warm.
To serve; Prepare your vegetables however you see fit and place in a serving bowl. Drain the potatoes on kitchen paper, remove the string from the pork, arrange everything on a serving board.
Where the string was attached to the pork you will find deep grooves which are perfect portions for carving thick slices of pork and crackling.