· Pork belly (I’ve been using pieces around ½ kilo – 1 kilo in size, but it’s easy to adjust cooking times to suit)
· Mushrooms (a cup or two)
· Truffle oil (not strictly necessary, but is completely awesome if you can get it –a splash in scrambled eggs is fucking fantastic)
· Garlic (a clove or two of the fresh stuff, or some of that minced stuff in jar)
· Butter, one knob (tee hee)
· Olive oil
· Sage (ground)
Cooking the pork belly
Preheat your oven to 240° Celsius (which is 460° Farenheit or about 513 Kelvin).
Using a sharp knife score the pork belly skin and fat in a crisscross pattern (lines an inch or two apart).
Dry the skin with paper towel or a tea towel, and rub olive oil (about half a cup) and salt (a couple of tablespoons) into the skin. This makes the crackling awesome.
Put the pork belly skin-side up in a roasting pan (if you have one, put the meat on a roasting rack and put a cup or two of water in the bottom of the pan to keep the meat moist; this isn’t necessary, but it’s a nice touch).
Cook at this temperature (240° Celsius / 460° Farenheit) for 15 minutes. This high heat gets the crackling started nicely before we turn down the temperature to slow-cook the meat and render the fat.
Turn down the heat on the over to 160° Celsius (320° Farenheit) and cook for one hour. If you have a larger piece of pork belly, adjust the cooking time to suit. I’d cook 2 kg of pork belly for 2½ – 3 hours. The cooking temperature is very low, so you can afford to be imprecise and not worry about ruining the meat too much.
Take the meat out of the pan and fry it skin-side down on a high-heat BBQ, griddle or frypan with a good thick coating of olive oil until the crackling is good and crispy (takes about 10 minutes – if the crackling starts burning, turn down the heat a bit).
Allow the meat to rest while you cook the sauce.
Cooking the sauce
Heat up a saucepan (medium-high heat) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Fry up a cup or two of mushrooms (sliced thick or thin, whatever you prefer) along with some garlic (a clove or two of the fresh stuff, or a teaspoon or so of the minced stuff that comes in a jar) and add a few tablespoons of water if the pan starts getting too dry.
When the mushrooms are cooked, turn the heat to low and chuck in a teaspoon or two of ground sage, a knob of butter (about a tablespoon), a good splash of cream, and (if you have it) a dash of truffle oil. If you don’t have truffle oil and want to give the sauce a bit of zing, you can use a teaspoon or two of mustard.
Cook the sauce down a bit (you can thicken it quickly by mixing a teaspoon of plain flour with a small amount of water and gradually adding this to sauce) before serving.
Best served with roast potatoes, a stack of vegetables, beer and wine … then some scotch, maybe a scoob.