Everyone loves pork crackling?

There is a saying that everyone loves bacon, even vegetarians. This might be true, even if the vegetarians might not eat it, they might still appreciate the smell?

Not too far from bacon is pork crackling, even the non initiated seem to love proper crackled crackling. I had some Swedish friends over this weekend who loves bacon. As they have never eaten pork crackling I changed my pre thought dinner from lamb to pork belly, slow cooked with Szechuan pepper, the perfect crackled crackling and chinese plum sauce. We had a late dinner and to make it lighter I served with rice noodles and veg, no heavy starch as it is such fatty food already.

I let the pork belly (skin side up) dry uncovered in the fridge for as long as possible, over night if time allows. I then cut the skin off with the closest layer of fat on, then they cook in separate trays, slow cooking and end the cooking with an approx 15-25 mins heat blast. I leave the ribs on whilst cooking to get maximum flavour and let the meat rest while the crackling crackles, don’t take it out until it sounds hollow when you tap it and it should be light to the touch, but be aware – it is hot!

Sprinkle on some salt and serve with the meat and see if anyone doesn’t like it! Cooked correctly no one should have to worry about keeping their teeth intact or eat on some chewy piece of skin, an awful texture!

To slow cook the pork belly melts the fat and gives an amazing amount of flavour, no extra fat is needed and a dry rub of spices works a treat to maximise flavour.

The plum sauce is spiced with star anise, cinnamon and sugar, boiling it down to a slight reduction, it brings out the Szechuan pepper flavour but also allows the mellow pork to come through. Be careful not to serve it with too starchy and heavy foods or it will go overboard and your guests might sink or simply fall asleep at the table!

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