Photo by: Colin Campbell

Roasted pork belly with orange & star anise

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7 oranges, halved
1 bunch thyme, roughly chopped
1 bunch rosemary, roughly chopped
1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
100ml olive oil
2-3kg pork belly, rind on
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
2/3 bottle white wine
For the star anise reduction
500ml orange juice
180ml balsamic vinegar
160g honey
10 star anise

This cut of pork, slowly cooked, offers the best contrasting textures. The crackling skin and fatty meat, along with the mellow spiciness of anise and sharp sweetness of orange. It's the ideal festive centrepiece for the inexperienced or kitchen-shy; if you follow the instructions, it's hard to get wrong, yet is highly impressive. Goes well with french beans and roasted potatoes. Serves six to eight.


Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Arrange the orange halves in a large roasting tray, cut side up. Put the herbs, garlic and oil in a food processor and blitz roughly. Lay the pork on top of the orange halves, skin side down, and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands, spread the herb mixture evenly all over the upward-facing side of the meat, pressing so it sticks. Turn the joint over, so it's now skin side up and sitting on the orange halves. (Don't be too fastidious - not all the oranges have to be under the meat.) Wipe the skin dry with kitchen towel and sprinkle all over with sea salt.
Roast at full blast for an hour, turning the tray around halfway through. By the end of the hour, the pork should have turned a deep golden colour and the skin have firmed up. Turn down the heat to 160C/325F/gas mark 3, pour the white wine into the base of the tray, avoiding the skin, and roast for an hour more. If the belly begins to turn black, cover with foil. For the last cooking stage, turn down the heat to 110C/225F/gas mark ¼, and roast for another hour, uncovered, until the skin has crackled and thoroughly dried.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan, stir and place over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to a third. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
When the pork is ready, take it out of the oven. To serve, cut the joint into segments of a few ribs each, cutting in between the bones. Plate the pork pieces and orange halves on a large platter, and pour some of the cooking liquids on top, followed by a little of the star anise reduction. Dot the 10 star anises from the reduction here and there over the meat, for decoration, and serve the remaining sauce on the side.


{based on 5 reviews}

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  • Shop Truly magnificent!
    (07/06/2015) Followed the recipe to the letter and the result was stunning. Luscious tender meat and crackling to die for. Could not agree less with the comment on the reduction: it was smooth with just the right mixture of sweetness and tartness. Probably the author hadn't reduced it enough?
  • Shop The best Christmas lunch
    (26/12/2014) I used this recipe on a suckling pig for Christmas lunch. A ten kg suckling pig cooked in a hooded BBQ in a purpose made stainless steel tray. Up early to get the pork ready, it was on by 6.00 am. Simple to prepare and although watched carefully it is impossible to get this one wrong. Three bottles of wine later, around the pork that is, to let it dry out for the last hour and harden the skin up.
    Finished in 7 hours and was so incredibly pull apart tender and flavoured throughout.
    All I would do next time is cut back on the garlic a little, otherwise a winner all round. 11 people devoured three quarters of the pig along with Aussie p
    King prawns and Turkey. Had wonderful salads and duck fat baked potatoes.
    Now for a lot of exercise and small meals to make up for the feast. Thanks for the recipe, one of the best pork dishes ever.
  • Shop Great pork, shame about the sauce!
    (10/11/2014) The pork worked very well, moist and tender and that gorgeous rich quality that comes from slow roasting. And the crackling was spectacular - which is always a plus in our house. The one modification I'll make to the recipe is that in future I shall use the liquid from the roasting tin to make a light gravy.
    I shan't be making the sauce again! It completely overpowered anything else on the plate (quite apart from having to have all the windows open while it reduced). Even my daughter, who is quite the gourmand, balked at it.
    My local wine merchant (Noel Young) recommended a white Cote du Rhone Villages (grenache blanc, clairette and bourboulenc) to partner the pork and that worked well, having sufficient acidity to counter the fat and a floral note that chimed with the orange.
  • Shop Happy Pork
    (14/06/2014) I have cooked this many times for friends and family. It's now affectionately known as Happy Pork. A meal that sparks conversation and fun times. Everyone has loved the combination of flavours and tenderness of the meat. The recipe has been shared between lots of friends and always by the name Happy Pork.
  • Shop Too dry?
    (02/03/2014) Slightly disappointed in this. I used a much smaller piece of belly (0.5kg) without bones in, but even then three hours cooking time didn't make it soft and pull-apart-able in the way slow cooking should. I think the orange slices keep the pork raised up away from the wine, so you don't get the nice tenderising effect the wine should have. When I've done pork belly before, I've poured the wine up to the level just below the fat, and it produces a really moist, soft piece of meat after slow roasting. This was just a little dry and chewy, even after three hours. The herbs only got to the bottom layer of the meat, so the top was tasteless.

    The sauce is nice, but I'd rather have had more herbs and flavours in the actual belly meat. Usually it's the unusual flavour combinations that make Ottolenghi food zing for me, but this didn't have the same freshness.

    Sorry to hear this recipe wasn't the most successful one for you: we've had a lot of joy from it in the past! Cooking the meat off the bone could have had something to do with it - the meat is often sweeter and more moist and succulent if it is cooked on the bone - or the smaller piece of meat you started off with sounds as though it didn't have the fat a larger piece would have had to keep it all moist during the long and slow cooking. One idea might be to cover the meat during the cooking, with aluminium foil, to keep all the juices in and help it keep moist. Make sure, as well, that your roasting pan is nice and snug so that the liquids rise up the sides of the pan and, again, help to keep the whole thing moist.