Crispy Pork Belly with Hummos
FEATURING MONJAY MEZZA’S HUMMOS
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Pork Belly has to be the Holy Trinity of textures. If done right (and we’ll guide you through that), in one mouthful you’ll encounter shards of crisp skin, melting fat and soft, yielding meat. It’s rich, heavenly, and a cinch to achieve. All you need is a little prep time.
Two of the three textures don’t require much thought: for the melting fat and tender meat, all we need is a long enough cooking time at a moderate temperature. The anatomy of a pork belly cut does the rest.
Which leads us to the third texture – crackling skin. On this, theories abound. In all likelihood, you’ll never come across two people who agree on a method. A quick browse on the internet will uncover sermons, incantations, myths and reddit threads too long to read in a single lifetime.
But, really, there’s nothing mysterious about it. The skin of pork belly crackles as high temperatures render the fat. Moisture boils and creates steam, which expands and bubbles the skin. To achieve this, we need three things: salt, a dry environment, and a hot oven.
We’ve chosen carrots bathed in balsamic vinegar as the accompaniment because the sweet tanginess helps combat the richness of pork belly.
- 1½ – 2 kg boneless pork belly
- Olive oil
- Monjay Mezza Hummos
- 1 bunch baby carrots
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
How to Prepare
If there’s any residual moisture or blood on the pork belly, pat it dry with paper towel. Find the sharpest knife you have (a Stanley knife comes in handy) and score the skin and fat in long, even lines, a finger-width apart. Try not to cut into the meat. Put the pork belly on a plate and place in the fridge for 12 hours, or a couple of hours, or however much time your woeful organisational skills allow.
(The fridge helps to dry out the skin, which leads to better crackling. Alternatively, you can use a hair dryer to achieve similar results, in less time and with more theatricality.)
Heat the oven to 240C. Take the pork belly out of the fridge and allow it to return to room temperature. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the skin (don’t be shy and forget the nutritionist) and rub it in with your fingers, making sure all the scores are attended to. The salt seasons and draws out further moisture.
Drizzle the skin with olive oil.
Place the pork in a roasting dish in the oven. The skin should take around 30 minutes to blister and crackle. Reduce the heat to 170C and cook for another 2 to 2½ hours. Stick the belly with a skewer: if the juices run clear, it’s ready.
(As a general rule, pork takes 30 minutes of cooking for every 450g, plus an extra 30 minutes.)
Remove from the oven and rest, UNCOVERED. Sorry, didn’t mean to yell, but it would be a heinous crime if you were to cover the belly now and allow the trapped steam to soften the skin.
While the pork rests, its time to deal with the carrots. Turn the oven up to 200C. Trim the green fronds and scrub the carrots of any dirt (no need to peel). Place in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and the balsamic vinegar and toss. Place on a shallow baking tray and roast for around 20 to 25 minutes.
When it’s time to serve, open a tub of Monjay’s Hummos with Roasted Capsicum and Jalapenos and smoosh it all over a serving dish. Slice the pork belly (sometimes it’s easiest to cut through the scores you’ve already made), and lay the slices like fallen dominoes on the Hummos. Leave the carrots on their roasting tray and place both dishes on the table and order people to serve themselves.
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