Tom and I love to get our hands on Young Farmers meat whenever they are delivering to Brisbane. We value the importance of feeding our bodies with good quality food which is exactly why we have our own herb and vegetable garden, because there is just nothing more satisfying than knowing where your food came from and controlling the soil from which it grows in. Unfortunately the one thing we aren't raising at home (yet!) is our meat, so instead we put our trust into the people who we believe know best... Young Farmers.
Young Farmers pride themselves on serving up good quality, locally raised grass-fed beef and free-range pork which seems to be harder to come by these days than you think. Plus how good does it feel to support local businesses who are out there trying to do the right thing by their consumers! Because after all, "you are what you eat and what your eat, eats..."
After watching a BBC cooking show where they brined and slow roasted mouth watering pork in a sh*t load of sugar and salt, I decided there had to be a healthier way to do it without the artery failure. So for our last Young Farmers order we got our hands on a 1kg pork belly and made our adventure, and oh boy it was a good one.
Brining is the process of soaking or preserving your meat in salty water, so salt is inevitable in this recipe. However, salty water is still salty water whether you use 5kgs of salt of 4 tablespoons. With 4 tablespoons of salt across 1 litre of water and 1kg of meat it is safe to say you will be intaking minimal salt.
- 1kg Pork Belly (if you live in Brisbane or Gold Coast, I definitely recommend Young Farmers)
- 1 litre of filtered water
- 4 tbsp of Himalayan rock salt
- 3 tbsp of coconut sugar (or honey or any unrefined sugar, anything is better than dirty white sugar, however if you are choosing white sugar go organic!)
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- sprig of fresh thyme & rosemary
- To your filtered water add your brining ingredients; salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, thyme & rosemary and bring to the boil.
- Make sure all of the sugar and salt is dissolved and remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Whilst the brine is cooling allow your pork belly to rest on the bench.
- Place the pork belly, crackling side up in a glass dish (preferably but a plastic container or baking tray will do!), and pour the room temperature brine over the pork up to where the crackling fat layer begins. This is to prevent burnt crackling whilst cooking... due to the sugar content within the brine!
- Seal the glass dish with a lid, aluminium foil or cling wrap and transfer to the fridge to brine for 12 to 24 hours. The longer you leave the pork to brine the stronger the flavour and softer the pork will be once roasted.
- After 24 hours is up remove the pork belly from the brine and pat dry using paper towels or a clean tea towel. Score the crackling layer of your pork to ensure for the crispiest crackling, you can also rub a bit of salt into the scoring for a tastier crackling (naughty, I know!). When purchasing your pork you can always ask your butcher to score it for you.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees and prepare the base of your baking tray with baking paper or aluminium foil with a suspended wire rack inside the tray.
- Place the pork belly on the wire rack and roast in the oven for 2 hours with aluminium foil over the top to stop it from drying out and for the last 20 to 30 minutes remove the foil to allow the crackling to become crisp and golden brown.
- Once cooked, allow the pork to rest for 30 minutes before serving. We enjoyed ours with roast potatoes and steamed vegetables however pork also goes well with apple sauce and mashed potatoes or lentils and fermented cabbage (sauerkraut!).
Serve and enjoy, because remember good food is meant to be enjoyed especially by those who value it.