Fennel, Coriander Seed and Pepper Pork Belly

British pork is a wonderful thing. We have some of the highest welfare standards in the world and – as cuts like pork belly are relatively cheap – it’s easy to justify a trip to a butcher to make sure you’re buying a really quality, native breed which has been reared outdoors. Even at a super-high end London butchers like Lidgate’s you’ll get a good couple of kilograms of pork belly (which will feed 6-8 people) for twenty quid, bargain!

Though pork belly meat is soft and succulent, the crackling will always be the prize. Making sure that the fat is dry and the heat is high are the two most important rules to good crackling … but introducing spices is my third rule, and the key to turning crackling from something already pretty special, into an absolute delicacy.

This combination of Fennel Seeds, Coriander Seeds and Tellicherry Peppercorns is, in my opinion, The Holy Trinity of pork cookery. Each brings something to the party and together creates a punchy spice blend which works so well with the fatty meat.

Pork Belly is a classic Sunday Roast and, in my opinion, a particularly good summer/autumn option (when you’re not quite ready to hunker down with roast beef and Yorkshire puddings). Serve this spiced pork belly with lashings of apple sauce and a British cider or crisp white wine for ultimate enjoyment!


1.5-2kg pork belly
3tbsp fennel seeds
2tbsp coriander seeds
2tbsp Tellicherry peppercorns
1-2tsp salt
3tbsp olive oil


Tip for the perfect crackling:
Score the rind diagonally at 1cm intervals. Use a sharp Stanley knife or – even better – ask your butcher to do it for you when you buy the pork. The day before you cook the pork belly, put the pork belly on a wire rack in the sink, skin-side-up, and pour boiling kettle water over it to deepen the scores and open them up. Dab it dry using kitchen towel, and then put the belly in the fridge uncovered, for 12-48h, to give the pork skin a chance to dry out further.

Tip the fennel seeds, coriander seeds and Tellicherry peppercorns in a dry pan. Toast them over a gentle heat. Don’t let them colour too much, but just let the spices ‘bloom’ and become aromatic. Tip the spices straight out of the pan and into a pestle and mortar, and give them a gentle bash. The aim here isn’t to create a fine powder, but just to crack the peppercorns and coriander seeds.

Stir olive oil into the spices to create a paste then rub it over the scored pork belly, pushing it into the cracks.

Preheat the oven to 200-220C and cook the pork belly at a high heat for 20-30minutes until the skin starts to crackle. Now reduce the heat to 160C and cook for a further 2-2.5hours until you can pull apart the belly with a fork. For the final 10 minutes of cooking, turn the temperature back up to the highest setting (220C) to give the crackling one last opportunity to crisp-up.

Cover with foil and rest for 20 minutes before serving. In the summer, I’d serve it with buttered new potatoes and a crunchy coleslaw. In autumn or winter, I’d go with traditional Sunday roast sides and heaps of apple sauce.

spices used

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