Cerdo Al Horno (Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel Seeds)

A mouthwatering pork belly recipe from The Moro Cookbook. Cerdo al horno is roasted pork belly accompanied by a salted fennel seed rub and rich sherry gravy.

Introduction

Roast pork with fennel seeds is one of those magical combinations, and our customers adore it. Pork belly is an underestimated cut - it is cheap to buy and when cooked well can be exquisite, but you can use pork loin if you prefer. Ask your butcher to score the skin of the belly, or do it yourself with a Stanley knife (the cuts should be no more than 1cm apart and be deep enough to cut through the rind to form crackling).

Serves 4-6
Easy

Ingredients

1.5 kg organic or free-range pork belly in one piece, skin on and scored
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a pinch of salt
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
150ml fino sherry or white wine
A splash of water (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

Essential kit

You will need a large roasting tin.

Instructions

Mix the garlic with the fennel seeds and rub over the flesh of the belly. Place on a large board, skin-side up, and dry the skin thoroughly. Generously sprinkle with fine sea salt (about 1 tablespoon) all over the scored skin. Leave for half an hour, then dust off excess salt.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8.

Transfer the pork to a large roasting tin greased with the olive oil and place in the hot oven on the top shelf. It is important that the oven is really hot to start with, as this intense heat is required to blister the skin and turn it into crackling. Roast at this high heat for a good 30 minutes until hard crackling has formed, then turn the heat down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and transfer to a clean roasting tin. Continue cooking for another 2-2½ hours (35 minutes if loin) until the meat is soft and tender. Remove from the oven, transfer to a chopping board and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil to keep warm, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour off any excess oil, and place the roasting tray on the hob on a low to medium heat. Deglaze with the sherry or white wine, scraping the juices off the bottom of the pan as you go. Simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce the alcohol, then taste for seasoning. If it tastes too strong, add a splash of water. Keep hot. To serve the pork we often take it off any ribs beforehand as it is easier to slice.

We like roast pork with one of the following dishes, the recipes for which are all in The Moro Cookbook: Patatas a lo Pobre (see page 230), Peas and Potatoes with Anis (see page 229), Quince Alioli (see page 249) and roast vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips or whatever combination you prefer.

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