A simple cut of pork belly can become a show-stopping centerpiece if you cook it just right: meltingly soft meat topped with the crispiest golden crackling. Simplicity is key – serve it with baked apples and you have a meal fit for a king – especially if you serve it with a glass of the Creative Block 3.
Note: The key to really crisp crackling is that the skin side must be absolutely dry before cooking. Keep it open (skin side up) in your fridge for a few hours, or overnight, to dry out before seasoning/cooking it.
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
• About 2kg boneless pork belly with scored skin (choose one with a relatively thin fat layer)
• 15-30ml (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil
• 10ml (2 teaspoons) salt flakes (or 5 ml fine salt)
• 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced into rounds
• 10ml (2 teaspoons) fennel seeds
• 10ml (2 teaspoons) smoked paprika
• 375ml (1,5 cups) apple juice
• 30ml (2 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar
• 3 apples, halved
Make sure the skin of the belly is dry by placing it on a rack in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If the skin is not scored, use a very sharp blade to score lines into the skin side about 1cm apart.
Preheat oven to 240°C and set your oven rack to one setting above the middle.
Rub the belly all over with oil and season with salt on both sides. Sprinkle with fennel seeds and paprika on the meat side. In a medium-sized roasting tray (just bigger than the belly), arrange a layer of sliced onions, add the apple juice & balsamic vinegar over the onions, then place the belly skin-side-up on top of the onions.
Place the roasting tray in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skin side has bubbled up all over and turned golden brown. Now turn down the temperature to 160°C and roast for 3 hours or until very tender, adding a little water if the roasting tray looks too dry at the bottom. Add the halved apples to the roasting tray for the last 45 minutes of the roasting time.
Serve hot, sliced, with the baked apples, slivers of onion and some pan juices.
About the wine
Creative Block 3 offers subtle perfumed notes of violets, pomegranate and mulberry are followed by spicy flavours of black pepper and coriander. The silky, rich mid-palate gives way to an intense concentration of fruit and dense, silky tannins.