A great alternative to a traditional roast dinner, this stuffed pork belly is a beautiful centrepiece - ideal for Christmas feasts or at Easter.
Our stuffed pork belly is flavoured with a mixture of fennel, apple, sage and pistachios and could be made separately if you’re looking for a new stuffing recipe. (opens in new tab) The other star of this stuffed pork belly recipe is the delicious crackling on top. Keep and eye on the cooking times to get the best crunch to your crackling. For optimum results, it’s best to prep the pork two night before so that it can rest in the fridge, then make the stuffing and stuff it the day before you plan to eat, and rest it again the night before cooking.
- 2kg boneless pork belly
For the stuffing:
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- olive oil, for frying
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 200g pork mince
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 apple, grated
- Small handful sage leaves, fine chopped
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 45g pistachios
- juice and zest of ½ lemon
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- Score the pork belly skin with a sharp knife in lines. Lay the belly cut on a board, skin side up, and place, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, make your stuffing. Dry-fry the fennel seeds in a pan over a high heat for 1-2mins, then tip into a pestle and mortar and leave to cool. Grind well, then mix with a good pinch of salt and place in a large bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the onion. Season and cook gently over a low heat for 10mins. Add the garlic, and cook for another 2mins, then add the mince. Cook until the mince is browned. Set aside and leave to cool.
- Transfer the mince and onion mix to the bowl with the fennel seeds, and add the egg, apple, sage, breadcrumbs, pistachios, lemon juice and nutmeg.
- Lie the pork belly on a board, skin-side down. Place the stuffing into a sausage shape lengthways down the middle of the belly. Wrap the sides of the belly around the stuffing and tie with butcher’s string. Place seam-side down in a roasting tin, uncovered, and chill for at least 2hrs, preferably overnight. You want the skin to dry out completely so that it crisps up when you roast it.
- To cook the pork, take it out of the fridge about an hour before cooking to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and cook the pork for about 2hrs, turning the tin every 30mins or so. After 2hrs, turn the heat up to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas 7 and cook for another 20mins. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15-20mins. Carve and serve with sides.
Top Tip for making stuffed pork belly
If you have time, allow the meat to rest in the fridge overnight (uncovered) as it really helps get that crackling going.
How do you get the best crackling on roast pork?
The secret to the best crackling on pork is to get the skin as absolutely dry as possible. That's why it helps to leave it uncovered in the fridge for two nights before cooking. Each time you take it out, dab the skin with paper towels to remove as much of the extra moisture as you can.
What's the best way to score pork belly?
Traditionally pork belly is scored in a diamond pattern, but for the best crackling and the easiest carving, score it in horizontal lines. Look at your pork belly before you start and work out which way you want to roll it up. Score the lines in the same direction that you will roll the pork in. Use a really sharp knife - a scalpel is even easier. Score through the skin to the fat, but not into the meat below. Score on lots of lines - about 1cm apart. When you come to carve through the crispy crackling, you will find these lines make it so much easier.
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Jules is a creative and talented Food Editor with over 12 years' experience in the food industry across brands and magazine titles. Jules' experience is cast and varied, from food Editor to food writing. She is also passionate about food sustainability and has an amazing talent for food Styling.
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