Super succulent pork belly with crunchy-as crackling is an entree hard to beat. The fruity, peppery caramel cuts through the fat of the pork – perfect!
1.25kg boneless pork belly
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground Chinese five spice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra 1 Tbsp
2 leeks, trimmed, cut into 2cm-thick rounds
2 carrots, peeled, sliced into 2cm-thick rounds
2 tsp fine salt
2 tsp sea-salt flakes
Steamed baby corn, sliced into rounds
Coriander leaves and micro herbs, to garnish
Black pepper cherry caramel
¾ cup caster sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Use a sharp knife or Stanley knife to score pork rind, in parallel lines, without cutting all the way through into the meat.
Put pork belly, rind side up, on a wire rack in the kitchen sink and pour over a kettle full of boiling water.
Pat pork rind dry with paper towel and put on a plastic tray, uncovered in the refrigerator, overnight or for 6 hours.
Preheat oven to 250°C fan-forced (270°C conventional). Put garlic, fennel seeds, five spice and oil in a small bowl to combine. Rub all over the pork meat (but not on the rind).
Arrange leeks and carrots in a large roasting pan, cut sides facing up. Sit pork belly on top, rind side up, covering vegetables. Rub scored rind with extra oil, then rub in salts. Roast for 40 minutes.
Reduce oven to 160°C fan-forced (180°C conventional). Roast for a further 1 hour. Increase oven to 230°C fan-forced (250°C conventional) and roast for a final 15 minutes, or until pork is cooked when tested and rind is well blistered. Set aside for 15 minutes before carving into 8 pieces.
Meanwhile, to make black pepper cherry caramel, combine sugar, water and vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, then cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel in colour. Stir in cherries and pepper, and remove from heat.
Spoon a little of the black pepper cherry caramel onto 8 small plates. Arrange leek, carrot, corn and pork on top. Garnish with coriander and micro herbs. Serve with remaining caramel sauce on the side to add as desired.