Membrillo- and Pepper-Glazed Belly Pork

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

    as a main meal

Appears in

Made from the fragrant quince, membrillo is delicious with pork, its unmistakable sweetness blending perfectly with fennel and black pepper. This is bone-sucking stuff, definitely for eating with your fingers.

Ingredients

  • pork belly 1.5 kg/3 lb 5 oz in one piece
  • extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp, plus extra for rubbing in
  • black peppercorns ½ tbsp, freshly ground
  • fennel seeds 1 tsp, crushed
  • sea salt flakes 2 tsp
  • membrillo (quince paste) 125 g/ oz
  • lemon juice 2 tbsp

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Using a sharp knife (a Stanley knife is perfect), score the pork skin through the fat, but not the flesh, making diagonal slashes about 2cm/¾in apart. Then cut the meat into eight strips, measuring about 13 x 5cm/5 x 2in.

Massage a lavish amount of olive oil into the pork skin, then sprinkle with the pepper, fennel seeds and sea salt flakes, rubbing well into the slashes. Arrange skin-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting tin, and roast for 20 minutes.

While the meat’s sizzling away, put the membrillo, lemon juice and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted, then let it bubble gently for a minute or two until slightly syrupy.

Take the meat out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Brush the membrillo glaze over the meat, making sure it gets into all the crevices. Put the meat back in the oven and roast for 30–35 minutes, basting with the glaze every 10 minutes or so.

By now the skin should be starting to crackle. Increase the temperature to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7, or as high as your oven will go. Brush once more with the glaze, then give the meat a final blast for 5–10 minutes to encourage the crackling to crackle uniformly.

Once the meat is golden and stickily crisp, leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. Drizzle with any remaining glaze before serving.

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