Panna di Maiale Arrosto

Roast Belly of Pork

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Preparation info

  • 8

    people
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

A rather off-putting title in English and if you make it with a normal piece of British pork, an off-putting dish. Pork husbandry in Britain is by and large a disgrace: the animals are reared squalidly and cruelly for a very short time, and they all too soon become carcasses that are the result of a conspiracy between bacon producers and food faddists, with lean and unpalatable meat. What pigs need to do is root around, find their own food (supplemented with swill) and end up with at least 2 cm fat between skin and flesh. Lean pork is an abomination, and I pronounce my gastronomic fatwa on the producers of lean pork: may they live forever more in Muslim countries. The Italians know all about pork, and have done for 2,000 years since the Gauls taught them under duress to make hams.

For this recipe you want pork belly with at least 2 cm fat between skin and flesh. The ribs should still be in place. Ask your butcher to cut it into two pieces.

Ingredients

  • 1 belly of pork, approx. 2 kg
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • fresh rosemary

Method

You will need a roasting tin with a rack. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

With a roasting fork jab the meat on the skin side very thoroughly. This will allow the fat below the skin to seep through as it renders out and ensure amazing crackling. Sprinkle the meat lavishly with sea salt and pepper and place, skin side up, on the rack. Roast for 2 hours, turning the oven down to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 after half an hour. You do not baste, you do not turn the meat. If you wish to reserve the copious amounts of fat rendered, pour them out of the dish now and then.

If after 2 hours the skin is not completely crackling, cook briefly under an overhead grill. If during the cooking it seems to be burning, turn the oven down more, and very loosely cover with a sheet of foil. (If you tightly cover it, steam will be generated and the crackling will go down the tubes.) When the pork is done, allow to sit in the switched-off oven for 20 minutes to relax.

Spear the roast with a fork, and transfer to a large carving board. Turn over and carve with a serrated knife, sawing firmly and energetically when you reach the crackling. The ribs will indicate where you should cut, i.e. between them. Serve on a big plate with any juices that have accumulated in the roasting pan while the meat was resting and also any carving juices.

This dish forms a natural partnership with Red Cabbage. Cold, the meat is delicious sliced in sandwiches, or served with mustard and green salad.

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