This is a roast with salty, brittle crackling covering lays of sweet, succulent pork. The meat is cooked on a bed of vegetables and vinegar and the acid seems to balance out the richness of the fat. It is served with a quince alioli that, although luxurious in itself, has enough fruit acid to help cut through the pork. Don’t be alarmed by the richness of this dish. In the Spanish style of dining, the food is shared by many so you’re not going to serve up a great slab of pork belly; instead, you’ll be offering a little slice of sweet flesh topped with a ribbon of glazed skin.
This recipe is from MoVida – Spanish Culinary Adventures.
185 g ( 6 ½ oz) quince paste, at room temperature
120 g (4 ¼ oz/1 cup) alioli
2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) pork belly, on the bone with skin
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
3 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
6 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
375 ml (13 fl oz/1 ½ cups) white whine
375 ml (13 fl oz/ 1 ½ cups) sherry vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 220° C (425°F/Gas 7). Cut the quince paste into small pieces and mix with the alioli using a mortar and pestle or small blender for 1 minute, or until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Using a Stanley knife, lightly score the skin of the pork belly by making even, shallow 3 mm (1/8 inch) cuts in the skin, 1 cm (1/2 inch) apart. Rub the olive oil and then the salt into all sides of the pork belly. Place the pork in a 30 X 40 cm (12 X 16 inch) roasting tin, skin side up. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until crackling starts to form. Reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
3. Remove the pork from the tin and set aside. Add the vegetables, herbs, garlic, wine, sherry vinegar and 375 ml (13 fl oz/1 ½ cups) water to the roasting tin and stir to combine. Return the pork to the tin, sitting it on top of the vegetable mixture, skin side up. Cover with foil and cook for a further 2 hours until the meat becomes tender.
4. Increase the heat to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7), remove the foil from the meat and roast for a further 15-20 minutes to crisp up the crackling. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the bones and discard. Discard the vegetable base. Cut the pork belly into 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick slices with a sharp serrated knife and serve slices of pork and crackling on a warmed plate with the quince alioli.