Two raw pork belly joints

How to buy pork belly

You don’t need to be an expert to know how to buy good pork belly. You can either buy it as a whole piece (pictured below left) or pre-sliced from a butcher or a supermarket.

Be sure to pick out a cut that has a rich, pink colour. Covered by a firm, creamy layer of fat, this will produce the best crackling.  These points normally indicate quality meat, so avoid buying pork belly with a brown or greyish hue to it. Pork belly can come with or without bones, and while boneless is easier, when cooked, the bones are easily removable.

How to store pork belly

Knowing how to store pork belly will give you the best results when it comes to cooking. Uncooked pork belly should be wrapped as tightly as possible in freezer bags or wraps, or store in an air-tight container towards the bottom of the fridge.

Store at 5°c or below in the fridge (check your fridge is cold enough by using a fridge thermometer) for up to 2 days and 4-6 months in the freezer at -18°C.

The same applies to leftovers, but there won’t be much left over after you’ve tried it!


How to prepare pork belly

The aim of the game here is to get super succulent meat as well as deliciously crispy crackling. Preparation is key, so to do this:

  • Pierce the fat in multiple places with a fork and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, or herb mix of your choosing and oil. Any combination works great with pork belly so get creative!
  • To get the most out of your pork belly, you should look to do this 24 hours before cooking, then store in the fridge for the meat to absorb the seasoning
Pork and noodle salad on a white plate

How to cook pork belly

Grilling and Barbecuing
Slices: 1-2cm  8-10 minutes per side
Make sure the grill/griddle is preheated and very hot.
Do not poke or prod.
Cook no longer than the recommended times above.
Allow to stand for a couple of minutes before serving.

Mix together 2tbsp of oil and some seasoning or herbs of your choice and smear over the slices. Arrange in a single layer on a large roasting tin with some root vegetables, cut into wedges. cover and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C, 160°C Fan, Gas Mark 4 for 30mins, uncover for the last 5-10 mins to brown off .

Slow cooking can be done on the hob or in the oven, and allows the meat and vegetables (approx 350g chunky root vegetables and 150ml  liquid (eg stock, wine, cider, beer or water) per 450g of meat) to simmer slowly, ideal for tenderising some of the tougher cuts. Cook in either a large heavy based saucepan or an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.
Stewing is the hob method, for cubes or chinks of meat, in which all the ingredients are cooked in liquid, which when added just covers all the ingredients.
Casseroling is the oven method of stewing and to prevent it drying out should be cooked on a low heat – 170°C, 150°C Fan, Gas Mark 3 for about 1- 1 1/2 hrs).


The key to cracking crackling

Want to know how to make perfect crackling? Then discover our how to make crackling guide.