Roast belly pork with butternut squash

A different sort of Sunday roast but still pretty delicious.

I like roasting with belly pork, you get lovely crackling and soft juicy meat.It takes a long time to cook compared with a loin roast, but that means the crackling has time to really crisp up.

I made a dry rub of sea salt, peppercorns and fennel seeds, ground coarsely in a pestle and mortar which I rubbed all over the meat side of the pork. Then I turned my attention to the rind.

The crackling is the best part, but as I said, it takes time. I scored the rind and let it dry out on the rack of a roasting dish. Then I rubbed it with olive oil and rubbed sea salt into the slits and over the skin.

I preheated the oven to 200C and filled the roasting pan with boiled water before putting it on the top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. The important thing is that the water doesn’t touch the actual meat.

After 30 minutes, I moved the pork to the middle shelf and turned the heat down to 180C and roasted the pork for a further hour and a half. At this point, I topped up the water and checked that the crackling was getting nice and hard, forming a golden carapace.

I cut a whole butternut squash into slices, leaving the outer skin in place, seasoned it with salt and pepper and dribbled olive oil over it. Then I added some sprigs of fresh rosemary and roasted it on the top shelf for 45 minutes. I wanted the squash soft and with nice caramelised edges. Leaving the skin on stops the squash from disintegrating while cooking. There was more squash than I needed for the meal, but the rest would end up in a soup.

I left the pork to rest while I made a Marsala-based gravy with the roasting juices and some chicken stock. First I poured away the last of the water and the fat that had come from the pork crackling then I deglazed the pan on the hob with Marsala and added some chicken stock. Then, I strained this into a saucepan and reduced it slightly. I wanted a thinnish and clear gravy.

I removed the crackling from the pork and cut the meat into thick slices. I cut the crackling with kitchen scissors and served this on the side.

To finish the plate, I made a simple green salad with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette.

We drank a bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva with the pork. An Italian red seemed appropriate.




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