As we’re now into the second week of January, I guessing that it’s safe to assume that everyone has abandoned all resolutions of eating better and getting healthy, correct? Excellent, because I’m here to talk to you about pork belly. Anyone still labouring under delusions of virtue, don’t worry, this post will still be here when you rejoin us.
For those still with me, here’s why I think that this is an entirely appropriate time of year to be eating sticky, unctuous, sweet cured pork belly: In almost all cultures, the darkest part of winter is marked by some sort of festival that revolves around a meat-laden feast. A big practical reason for this is that, historically, surplus livestock needed to be slaughtered while they were still fat from the autumn harvest in order to save having to feed them with the dwindling winter stores. And when you’ve got a whole pig or a whole cow that needs eating, might as well invite the neighbours round to give you a hand and make a party out of it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that shortly after all the good food is eaten and gone comes the date for making resolutions to eat less.
If it’s to last more than a couple of weeks, the meat would have needed cured to keep it edible. And my god is it edible – the curing process draws out water and concentrates the porky flavour. This is what makes bacon a sacrament rather than just mere food. What once was done out of necessity, now is done for flavour.
The striations of fat in the pork belly gives it a self-basting quality that makes it my favourite cut not just of pork but possibly of any animal at all. And this is the best way I know to cook it – supercharged with the flavours from the cure, honey glazed and slow cooked to create a sweet, sticky, meltingly tender slab of meat. Continue reading “Sweet Cured, Slow Roast Pork”