Being a Sunday, there was enough time to really make the most of it. I had bought a fairly big piece of pork belly from my local butcher a few weeks before and had been really looking forward to getting it in the Weber. The threat of rain didn't put me off a bit, as the lid was going to be on the barbeque anyway. I took the belly out of the freezer on Saturday night and started mentally planning our Sunday meal. We always have a roast (or barbeque) on a Sunday so I thought fairly traditional accompaniments were in order.
The pork was simply rubbed with olive oil and salt, and then laid on a bunch or rosemary twigs from the garden in a Pyrex dish to retain the basting juices. The rosemary leaves (if that's what they are) were kept for the garlicy roast potatoes and swede. We had French beans and carrots for the rest of the veggies, and a simple gravy made from the pan juices and extra stock, and an oniony, herby stuffing made from fresh breadcrumbs.
ROAST PORK BELLY
INGREDIENTS: (serves 6):
- Large piece of pork belly (1.5-2kg)
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground rock salt
- Rosemary twigs
First, prepare two indirect fires in the Weber and while you are waiting for them to be ready, prepare the pork. Rub the pork with olive oil and sprinkle a generous amount of rock salt on the skin. The skin needs to be scored first (my butcher did it with a Stanley knife) to help release the fat and to make it easier to divide the crackling.
Lay the pork belly in a small roasting dish over the rosemary twigs and put the dish in the centre of the Weber, between the two fires. Put the lid on (all vents open). Check the pork from time to time, basting occasionally with a spoon.
This one was in the weber for 2hrs 20mins and then wrapped in foil out of the oven to rest for a further 20 minutes. This gave me time to make the gravy before I cut the pork into portions.
To serve, remove the ribs from the underside (great to nibble on as a chef's perk) and slice through the skin to divide the pork into large chunks, about 5cm square. Two of these chunks make a decent serving and everyone gets a good mixture of crackling and meltingly tender meat. Finish it off with a moderate helping of gravy. The meat is really moist so you don't need much.
ROAST PORK BELLY GRAVY:
- 2-3 tbsp fat from the roasting dish (pour off the rest of the fat and discard it)
- 2-3 tbsp plain flour
- knob of butter
- 1-2 cups of good quality chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
In a deep pan or sauce pan, make a roux by combining the fat and flour over a gentle heat. Use a bit of boiling water to get all of the lovely bits out of the roasting dish before adding to the roux. Slowly add the stock as the sauce thickens, add the butter, stirring constantly, season and taste. How thick you like your gravy is a matter of choice. My preference is somewhere in the middle, just thick enough to hold it together.
GARLICKY ROAST POTATOES AND SWEDE
- Peeled potatoes and swede cut into 2-3cm chunks
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of fresh rosemary
- Freshly ground rock salt.
Pre-heat the oven with an empty baking dish in it to 180 deg C. Meanwhile, plunge the potatoes and swede into a large pot of salted boiling water. Once the water returns to the boil, turn off the heat and leave it for 5 mins or so with a lid on. Drain the vegetables, put them back in the same pot, add the olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt. Put the lid back on and shake the pot vigorously to give the vegetables an oily, garlicky, starchy coating.
Turn them out into the hot baking dish (no need to add any further oil), spread them out and roast them for around 50 minutes. I added a few extra unpeeled garlic cloves in the pan to have as crunchy little treats with the meal. Next time I'll add them a bit later as they were a bit too crunchy!
All in all this was one of our best roast dinners for some time. It smelled awesome cooking away in the Weber, and tasted even better. I'm definitely making sure I always have some pork belly in the freezer.