Pork Belly with Fennel and Thyme

Slow roasted pork belly
A serious hunk of pork

I watched a chef I worked with pour tonic water over a pork belly because it was his ‘secret method’ for ensuring crispy crackling, I talked to a home cook about 2 months ago who told me she took her Nicky Clarke  hair dryer to the skin just before roasting.. In both cases I was speechless – firstly because my G&T became just a G and the thoughts of dandruff being blown all over a piece of prime pork made me want to slap this idiot.

First things first – Pork crackling is not difficult…full stop. I am sick hearing old wives tales about how to get the best of the best of the best crackling…..everything from Tonic water to hair dryers….. The single most important requirement is heat – if you have a ropey oven on its last legs forget about crackling it’s not gonna happen.

The recipe here is a sure-shot (because you don’t need any witchcraft) for getting ‘knock-knock’ crackling….along with incredibly moist, soft and tender pork meat.

Slow roasted pork belly
Belly Ready for serious heat


3 kl piece of bone-in pork belly (the ribs are an amazing tit-bit for the chef)

1 tbs fennel seeds

Fresh Thyme 1 large spring

4 cloves garlic

1 tbs salt flakes

1 tbs cracked black pepper


Step1: Start by scoring the skin at 1 cm intervals with a very, very sharp knife, work  parallel  to the pork belly edges all the way down to the top layer of fat. If you are able to then carefully remove the rack of ribs from the belly, you will use them as a trivot when roasting but your butcher can do this if needed.

Step2: In a mortar and pestle bash up the salt, pepper, garlic and fennel seeds then work into the pork skin, flesh and the slashes you made.

Step3: Lay the ribs into a roasting tray then lay the belly on top and leave it sitting to make sure it is at room temperature. Purely from habit I lug some olive oil into the tray (not onto the pork) but it’s not necessary…makes  a nice pic though 😉

Step4: Crank the oven up to its highest setting and when it’s at full belt place the pork on the middle shelf for and roast at this heat for 30 minutes – then immediately turn down to 140c for 3 hours.

Step5: After 3 hours at 140c crank up again to full for 15 minutes.This will ensure knock-knock crispy crackling – no voodoo required!

Step6: Leave the belly to rest uncovered for 10 minutes then serve.

At this time of year the only thing to put on the table with the pork is a crisp, fresh garden salad and freezing cold beer.

Slow roasted Pork belly
Summer Belly





15 thoughts on “Pork Belly with Fennel and Thyme

      1. Yeah.. They were ok.. Although am a little dubious with chicken skin.. I did duck ones that were quacking though (sorry hahaha!)..

    1. Thank you…my Butcher is the real hero here though Kathryn. Saturday mornings hanging around the shop and trying to pick something is a pleasure and a frustration….I want it all because it is just that good!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s