Peter Gordon is arguably one of New Zealand’s finest chefs and exports. His recipes are wonderful, to cook and to eat. Here’s one that I have cooked often. It’s simple to make and, can be a real show-stopper for dinner guests.
- 30 g fine salt
- 2 kg boneless pork belly, skin scored every 1 cm
- 1 stem of lemongrass
- 100 g peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 250 g crunchy peanut butter
- ½ tsp chilli flakes (more or less to taste)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 3 tbsp fresh tarragon or dill, coarsely chopped
- olive oil
- flaky salt
- A day or two before you’re planning to eat the pork, brine the belly in a non-reactive deep-sided roasting dish. Rub the salt into the meat on both sides and leave for 30 minutes. Turn the belly so the skin is facing down, then cover in enough cold water to submerge it. Cover tightly and leave in the fridge for 24–48 hours. (Note: I didn’t do this. I bought pre-rolled pork from my local butcher, and unrolled it to complete the next steps.)
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sit a rack in the centre of the oven.
- Drain the brine from the belly and pat it dry all over. Lay skin-side down on the bench.
- Peel and discard the outer four layers and upper and lower parts of the lemongrass stem, then finely chop the rest. Mix the peanuts, peanut butter, chilli, garlic, herbs and lemongrass together and spread this over the flesh-side of the belly. (Note: I didn’t have any lemongrass, peanuts or fresh dill. I used Fix and Fogg super crunchy peanut butter, and a teaspoon of dried dill. It worked OK, but if you can prepare ahead then do it properly.)
- Roll the pork belly up and tie tightly with string. Keep it as tight as you can. IMPORTANT: Use cooking twine. Don’t use plastic twine as it’ll melt in the oven which will lead to a disaster!
- Line a roasting dish with baking paper or tinfoil (this will make it easier to clean). Place a cake rack in the dish to keep the rolled pork elevated out of the cooking juice. Put the rolled pork on the rack seam side down.
- Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Roast for around 1 ¾ hours. The skin will be a beautiful golden brown. Near the end of the cooking turn the heat up to 240ºC and cook for 15–20 minutes until the crackling has crackled. Keep a keen eye on this part—you don’t want the skin to burn, and that can happen very quickly. If it doesn’t crackle turn on the grill, but watch it even more closely.
- Leave the belly to rest in a warm place, uncovered, for 15 minutes before removing the string and slicing the meat.
- I use a serrated knife to cut the meat. Try and keep the meat in slices.
Serve this dish with greens and roast potatoes, or with some hearty warming gravy.
The original recipe comes from Peter Gordon, Everyday. Photography by Manja Wachsmuth. Published by Harper Collins.