This little piggy went to market…… and then came home with me!
Every now and then I slow cook a pork belly. Not too often mind you, as the temptation to eat all the crackling myself is too great. I get mine from the Premium Butcher in Carrolls Cross, as it’s cut on the bone, which gives more flavour and structure to the joint.
This cut is quite fatty, and benefits from a slow long cooking time to render out all that fat into flavour for the meat. I put mine on for about 4-5 hours at about 100oC. You end up with crispy crunchy crackling and soft tender meat. Depending on the levels available to me I sometimes throw in a glass of white wine. Scoring the skin is alse necessary for the best result, as it seems to be critical for accessing the afore mentioned uber crackling. Having it at room temperature before cooking also seems to help.
There are various schools of thought on starting in a cold oven, but I have never found that to make enough of a difference with pork, duck breast – yes- pork- not so much. But if you have to set the timer on this dinner, as you won’t be home to turn the oven on, it won’t make too much of a difference over the long cooking time.
The health benefits of (good quality- grass fed) pork are numerous. Pork is a good source of easily digestible iron, with 100g providing you with 15% of the average daily requirement. (Bord Bia). Many people also find red meat hard to stomach if unwell, pork is easier to digest and lighter to eat. It’s as lean as a chicken breast,
Mind you, there’s not many health benefits, I’m sure to eating crackling, except the positive endorphins that result from such a guilty pleasure!