Pepper and Fennel Roast Pork with Carrots

I’ve finished with the Greens and Orange Salad and my Buttered Vegetable recipes as part of my Christmas Dinner Series. This one is our main course. I was actually planning on roasting the pork after marinating it overnight in hoisin sauce with star anise and peppercorns, but changed my mind because we already had sweet ham. So I had to think of a new way to prepare the roast. I sought inspiration from my Jamie Oliver books and finally decided on flavors which I thought would work together. And the result is a juicy roast pork that’s melt-in-your-mouth good and reminds me so much of the Filipino lechon. The carrots and peppers also become really sweet as they bake with the pork. Delish!

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo of pork belly (make sure that the skin is intact along with the rib bones*)
  • Leaves from 1 stalk of fennel, chopped roughly
  • 8 cloves of garlic, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper corns
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Rock salt
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large bell peppers, sliced into quarters (lengthwise)
  • 1/2 kilo carrots, sliced into quarters (lengthwise)

Steps

Make sure the pork belly is completely defrosted. Wash and pat dry. Place in a baking dish skin side up. Make sure that there is available space around the roast. Score the skin 1 cm into the pork fat with a sharp knife several times along the width of the roast**.

Salt the meat and drizzle over the juice from half a lemon. Rub the cracked black pepper, rosemary and fennel leaves*** all over the pork belly. Tuck in some of the herbs in the cuts made from scoring. Tuck the unpeeled garlic cloves around and under the roast.

Generously pour olive oil over the roast, making sure that it is evenly coated. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Place the dish in an oven pre-heated to 180 °C (360 °F) and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil covering the dish. Place the carrots and peppers around the roast and return the dish to the oven. Raise the temperature to 200°C (400 °F). Bake for another 30 minutes until the skin becomes crispy. Baste occasionally so that the vegetables don’t dry up.

Let the roast rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the roast to another dish along with the vegetables. Skim off the fat from the drippings and use what remains as sauce for the roast.

This roast comes with a side of carrots, peppers and roasted garlic. Yum!

*It is recommended that the bones be kept intact because there is a lot of flavor around it, which you want to keep in your roast. The skin will crisp up as you roast the pork belly.

**Scoring is the method of cutting small slits in a cut of meat. This process is often useful when marinating which allows the meat to absorb even more of the marinade flavor. You can tuck in herbs and spices in the cuts to help flavor the meat.

***The fennel leaves are tender and can’t stand baking–expect them to brown. But the great thing about them is they don’t taste burnt but crisp up and are nice with the crispy pork skin.

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