This recipe is making a heavy loan from Rick Stein’s „Mediterranean Escapes“ in which he describes a food experience in Sardinia. All I added are a few minor tweaks, themselves inspired from my vacation in Corsica where very much the same ingredients are used for cooking as in Sardinian cuisine. Otherwise, I bow to Rick Stein and his truly inspirational cook book, which – of all the cook books I own – is actually my absolute favorite one. Exempting baking manuals, of course, but then, these are not really in the same competition.
For the roast:
- 1.5 to 2 kg of unskilled pork belly (e.g. Duroc)
- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of myrtle corns
- 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt flakes
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, roughly cut into 4 to 8 pieces each
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, skinned and cut into 4 to 8 pieces
- 2 yellow onions, skinned and quartered
- 1 large shallot, skinned and quartered
For the gravy:
- 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 1 shot of Mirto Rosso di Sardegna
- 1 teaspoon of flour
- 200 ml of meat stock
- freshly ground black pepper, salt
Preparing the roast:
- Place the pork belly on a large cutting board with the skin side facing down. Make several shallow cuts into the fleshy side.
- Put the fennel seeds, the black peppercorns, the myrtle corns, the rosemary and the chili flakes in a mortar and grind coarsely. Add the sea salt flakes and the garlic cloves, grind into a paste. Mix in two tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Spread the paste over the fleshy side of the pork belly. Rub well into the incisions. Wrap tightly into cellophane and leave in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (top and bottom heat). Put the onions into a large roasting tin and cover with water (approximately 500 to 600 ml). Place on the bottom of the oven.
- Rub the pork belly well with the remaining olive oil. Place it with the skin side facing up on an oven rack over the roasting tin (so the fat may drip into the tin while cooking). Roast for 2.5 hours until tender.
- At the end of the roasting time, remove the pork belly and the roasting tin with the onions from the oven and increase the temperature to 230 degrees Celsius. Set aside and continue with preparing the gravy (see below).
- When the gravy is ready, put the pork belly back into the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until the skin is crisp. For carving, turn the skin side down and cut from the fleshy side.
- Serve on pre-warmed dishes, e.g. with carrots and/or soft-boiled potatoes.
Preparing the gravy:
- Remove any excess water and fat from the roasting tin (or pass the content through a sieve keeping only the onions) and place it over medium to high heat. Roast the onions until nicely browned.
- Add the vinegar, the mirto and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Let roast for a few minutes while scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. The stir in the flour and fill up with the stock and 200 ml of water.
- Bring to the boil, then pass through a sieve. Discard the onions and keep the liquid. Let it reduce in a clean pan until thickened (not too much, though). Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Keep hot until serving.