Obviously this is my favourite day of the week for many a reason. For starters I get to lounge around in bed in my pyjamas with panda eyes and messy hair without being judged, but mainly I love Sundays for the food. Being British it is expected that Sunday results in a roast, any kind of meat (or fish!) will do, it just has to be done in the oven. Be it a last minute kind of thing, a quick skip and a hop down to your local for a few slices of roast beef with a Yorkshire, or a premeditated and carefully calculated feat in the kitchen, the fruits of the pubs or your oven-slavery will undoubtedly be devoured in a matter of minutes. That is what Sundays were made for. They were also made for this.
Recently my amazingly talented brother was part of a production at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, so after 2 months when I heard he was coming back down to London for one day only I knew exactly what I had to do – Sunday lunch, a roast pork belly to be precise. What I love about pork belly when roasted is that it inevitably gets a pulled-like quality and it is juicy, melt-in-your-mouth hell yes kind of good. And the crackling. Ohhhh I can’t even talk about it without salivating.
Yes pork takes longer than other roasting options, but it is relatively fuss-free and absolutely worth it. Rub, roast, eat – simple.
Roast Pork Belly
1.5kg pork belly
1 red onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 cooking apple
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
300g carrots, left whole
Preheat the oven to 300°c
In a pestle and mortar, grind the fennel and mustard seeds until a coarse powder.
Score the fatty layer of the pork, cutting through the fat but not into the meat itself. Either roast it flat or roll it up and tie it with butcher’s string – your call.
Rub the pork with olive oil, chopped rosemary and the fennel and mustard seeds and season liberally. Arrange the sliced apple, onion and garlic cloves in the baking pan and place the pork on top. Roast for 10 minutes until the skin starts to blister, then reduce the heat to 170°c and continue to roast for a further 2.5 – 3 hours.
For the fennel and carrots, add to the pan for the last 45 minutes of cooking, drizzle with olive oil, add the zest of a lemon and season well. Turn the vegetables half way through cooking.
Remove the pork from the pan, wrap in aluminum foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes. Leave the carrots and the fennel in the oven with the onion and apple etc that the pork was roasting on to help them really caramelise and get even more moreish.
Serve with apple sauce and mustard, of course.