Read the notes (in the links in the recipe) to ensure success with crackling.
Small bunch sage Small bunch parsley Few sprigs fennel if available 3-4 fresh bay leaves 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped Head of garlic, broken into cloves but left unpeeled Zest 1 lemon 1 tsp fennel seeds Freshly ground black pepper to taste 700-800g (1½ –1¾ pounds) fat piece pork belly Flaky sea salt 1½ cups cider (choose something that’s not too sweet) 1 Tbp olive oil
1 Read the notes about preparing the pork Perfect pork crackling.
2 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Prepare all the herbs and vegetables and put them in a heavy-duty roasting dish or casserole adding in lemon zest, fennel seeds and a good grinding of black pepper. If the pork belly is not scored, use a very sharp knife (or a scalpel), to carefully cut through the skin and fat in neat narrow lines; take care NOT to cut right through the fat to the flesh (to avoid juice escaping during cooking which would soften the crackling). Rub the underside of the pork belly with a little salt, but keep the skin side dry. Put the pork belly on top of the vegetables. Pour the cider around the sides of the pork belly NOT over the top. Rub the pork belly skin with olive oil then sprinkle generously with oil. Learn more about roasting pork and making good crackling here Roast Pork and Perfect Crackling
3 Cook pork belly for 1½ hours, keeping an eye on the liquid level; top it up with water if necessary as you don’t want the aromatics to scorch. Lower heat to 150°C (300°F) and cook for a further 30 minutes. The skin should have crackled and the meat should be beautifully moist and tender.
4 Transfer pork to a board and let it rest uncovered for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice pork thinly and serve with vegetables of your choice.
If the skin fails to crackle properly, carefully finish it under a preheated grill.
You might find it easier to snip through the crackling with scissors. Then use a sharp knife to slice through the meat.
You can serve the vegetables in the casserole if you like – they will be full of flavour – but drain them well by tilting the casserole, and tip them onto a plate lined with paper towels.
The pan drippings can be turned into a tasty gravy. Read here Making a perfect jus