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Discover the Mouth-watering Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

​What’s the secret to perfect pork belly every time? Use this perfect pork belly recipe to make it soft and tender inside with a delicious crunch on the outside!

The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

Pork belly is the only part of the pig that gives you everything: fat, crunch and flesh. It’s salty, meaty and hearty with an incredibly rich flavour thanks to the thick layer of fat that runs along the top. Perfect pork belly has a crunchy rind on top and soft, unctuous meat underneath.

I like this perfect pork belly recipe from chef Miguel Maestre which shows you the secret to perfect pork belly every time and also includes some candied walnuts and a crisp Waldorf salad to serve with the pork.

Roast pork is one of my family’s favourite dishes, and I’ve perfected crackling so good they fight over it.  Check out how to do it here. Do try the Miso Caramel Sauce too – it’s amazing!

Perfect Pork Belly sliced
Perfect pork belly recipe
Miguel Maestre at Kingaroy's Baconfest

There’s no curing a love of bacon!

​A talented Spaniard with perpetual pizazz and an Aussie food legend with an Irish twang as endearing as his personality, Miguel Maestre knows a thing or two about pork.  His tips and recipe below include the secret to perfect pork belly every time will set the food hall on fire at Australia’s only swine-inspired culinary festival. Kingaroy’s BaconFest.

Miguel’s Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

One of the most common mistakes when cooking pork belly is not scoring the skin. Scoring the skin helps the fat render out and makes for a crispy crust. Another mistake is not cooking it long enough. Pork belly needs to be cooked low and slow to break down the fat and connective tissue.

Here are Miguel’s tips for Perfect Pork Belly

  1. The secret is to score the skin and allow it to dry out overnight in the fridge to make the crackle nice and crisp.
  2. Pre-frying the skin helps, but the game changer is very carefully adding the stock to the tray without allowing it to touch the skin. Otherwise, you’ll undo all your good work.
  3. This perfect pork belly recipe makes excellent pork in sandwiches, wraps and tacos, so don’t be afraid to cook a big portion for maximum leftover goodness.
The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time
Yield: 6 serves

The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Pork belly’s magic lies in its perfect balance of flavours and textures. It’s rich, fatty, and oh-so-tender, while the skin crisps up to create that irresistible crackling. It’s like a symphony of tastes and sensations dancing on your palate.

Make this perfect pork belly recipe and serve it with candied walnuts and a crisp Waldorf salad.

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kg pork belly
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, for pan-frying
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally, skin left on
  • 6 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 300 ml white wine (preferably chardonnay as it has a nutty flavour)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dijon or wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish cream, freshly grated horseradish or wasabi, to serve

CANDIED WALNUTS

  • 200 g (2 cups) walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes

WALDORF SALAD

  • 2 small green apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons whole egg mayonnaise
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 inner celery sticks, including leaves, finely sliced (about 1 cup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced) for at least 30 minutes to ensure it is nice and hot. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the candied walnuts, line a baking tray with baking paper. Toast the walnuts in a large frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden. Sprinkle over the sugar and chilli flakes and cook, shaking the pan, until the sugar has dissolved and caramelised. Transfer to the prepared tray and leave to cool for 10–15 minutes.
  3. Cut shallow incisions in the pork belly skin in a criss-cross pattern (similar to calamari) using a sharp knife or Stanley knife. Season the skin generously with salt and rub it in with your hands, ensuring it gets into the incisions. Using your hands will also help to bring the meat to room temperature, which will help with the cooking process. Season with black pepper.
  4. Heat a good splash of oil in a large flameproof roasting tin over medium heat. Add the fennel, thyme sprigs, garlic heads, star anise and 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds and cook for about 3 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Push the fennel mixture to the outer edges of the tin, leaving a space for the pork in the middle. Add the pork belly, skin side down, press on it with your hands and sear for 5–7 minutes until golden brown. Take your time to get it nice and golden, as this will ensure a crisp crackling.
  6. Turn the pork over so it is skin-side up and rub with the paprika and remaining fennel seeds. Carefully pour the wine into the tin without touching the pork skin and stir to scrape up any bits caught on the base. Cook off the alcohol for a few minutes and bring it to a boil (don’t skip this step, or the alcoholic flavour will be too strong). Add enough stock to come just below the skin and bring it back to the boil. Don’t let the pork skin get wet, or you won’t get that all-important crispy crackling.
  7. Carefully transfer the tin to the oven, making sure it is still bubbling from the boil, and roast for 2 1⁄2–3 hours until the meat is very tender, and the crackling is irresistible.
  8. Meanwhile, to make the salad, finely slice the apples using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Place in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and toss to coat. Place the mayonnaise, remaining lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water in a screw-top jar, season with salt and pepper and shake to combine. Trim the lettuce and separate the leaves. Place in a large, shallow bowl and scatter with the celery, apple and candied walnuts.
  9. Remove the pork belly from the tin and rest on a large platter or board - don’t cover it with anything. Strain the pan juices into a saucepan, discard the solids, and stir in the mustard and horseradish cream. Pour into a jug.
  10. Using a bread knife, carve the pork belly into chunky slices. Top with the freshly grated horseradish or wasabi and serve with the Waldorf salad and the sauce alongside.

Notes

TIP: For a more relaxed version of this perfect pork belly recipe, slice all of the pork and divide it among 12 split bread rolls. Add the salad and serve them as sliders.

Miguel Maestre at Kingaroy's Baconfest - IMAGE Nancy Jayde Photography

​​Kingaroy’s BaconFest

BaconFest is back for another year from August 18 to 20, and it’s set to ‘porktacular’. The festival kicks off with a Wine and Swine function on Friday evening. Then it’s into it from the get-go on Saturday with the Rasher’s Fun Run and a host of activations, including the Little Piggies and Artisan Market, and of course, a multitude of food trucks serving more pork produce than you can poke a stick at.

How to get to Kingaroy’s Baconfest

Ready to embark on a culinary road trip filled with delicious delights and cheeky humour? Let’s hit the road from Brisbane to Kingaroy, the peanut capital of Australia!

First, pack your appetite and a sense of humour because we’re in for a wild ride! Strap in as we journey approximately 220 kilometres northwest of Brissy to the heart of Kingaroy.

Keep your eyes peeled for the legendary “Big Peanut” in Kingaroy. Yep, you read that right – a giant peanut! It’s like a beacon of nutty goodness calling you to the peanutty paradise. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a peanut farmer playing hide and seek with a peanut butter sandwich. Just kidding, but hey, who knows what you might find?

Now, the pièce de résistance – the food! Kingaroy is famous for its peanuts, and you’ll find them roasted, salted, and turned into every peanutty treat you can imagine. Get your hands on some creamy peanut butter, peanut brittle, and even peanut ice cream! But wait, there’s more! This place is also known for bacon and beef, so brace yourself for mouthwatering steaks and hearty country breakfasts. You’ll be eating like a king or queen-aroy in no time!

11 things to try at Kingaroy BaconFest

Embark on a BaconFest adventure like no other, where the aroma of sizzling Kingaroy pork fills the air and indulgence knows no bounds. Here are 11 delectable experiences to dive into at the Kingaroy BaconFest, all in the signature style of Eat, Drink, and Be Kerry:

  1. Wine and Swine Soiree: A Flavourful Kickstart to Remember Secure your ticket for an event that promises an unforgettable start to the festivities. Delight in the perfect wine pairing that jumpstarts your palate, harmonizing with the salty, smoky, and succulent notes of Kingaroy’s finest pork. It’s a gastronomic affair not to be overlooked.

  2. The Great Bacon Gauntlet: Snatch Bacon Royalty for a Year Ready to prove your love for bacon? The annual Bacon Eating Contest is your stage. Immerse yourself in the sizzling competition where champions earn not only the bacon but also the coveted title of bacon aficionado. It’s a hands-free race against time, one rasher or two – can you secure the crown?

  3. Bacon Maestros Unleashed: Flair and Culinary Finesse The charismatic culinary extraordinaire, Miguel Maestre, is back to enthral Kingaroy once again. Witness his ‘wheely’ impressive culinary display as he weaves the magic of bacon into his creations. Joining him are the dynamic duo – Alastair McLeod and the beloved foodie powerhouses, Dan & Steph. Prepare for a show that tickles your taste buds and your funny bone.

  4. Little Piggies Stage: Where Bacon Meets Entertainment Settle in for a weekend of delight at the Little Piggies Stage, where talented performers take centre stage. Watch as they dance their way into your heart, providing entertainment for both young and old. Amidst this culinary chaos, families can bask in exclusive deals, including the ‘Pig Budget Breakfast,’ a true feast for all.

  5. Bacon Up High: Soar Above Kingaroy in a BaconFest Helicopter Seek a dash of adventure amidst your indulgence? Ascend into the skies aboard the official BaconFest helicopter. Glide over the iconic Kingaroy Peanut Silos, embracing a breathtaking aerial view of the town.

  6. Vintage Glamour Revived: BaconFest Pin-Up Pageant Flaunt your style and grace at the Sunpork Stage during the BaconFest Pin-Up Pageant. Let your fashionable spirit shine as you channel vintage vibes and showcase your fabulous attire, all while paying homage to the timeless allure of the pin-up era.

  7. Battle of the Bacon Chefs: Ready, Steady … Bacon! Gear up for a smoky showdown like no other! Join the culinary powerhouses – Alastair McLeod, Miguel Maestre, and Dan Mulheron – in a sizzling cook-off on the TAFE Queensland stage. Witness the creation of the perfect smoky storm and pick your side: Red or Green pig?

  8. BBQ Mavericks Unite: A Masterclass in All Things Barbecue Prepare to be schooled in the art of the Aussie barbeque by none other than the BBQ Smoke-Off champions. Engage in lively conversations about technique, flavour, and tools with these barbeque gurus. Don’t miss the BBQ Smoke-Off as they vie for the ultimate title.

  9. The Baconator Revelation: Decadence in a Bun Brace yourself for the unconventional with the BaconFest ‘Baconator’ Burger. This burger is no ordinary fare – it’s an enchanting dance of sweet and salty, juicy and crunchy. Savour every bite of this unique creation that pushes the boundaries of culinary creativity.

  10. Lavish Locavore Breakfast: Sunday Bliss at the Whipbird Embrace the serene beauty of Kingaroy’s Central Business District as you indulge in a leisurely Long Table Breakfast. Bask in the morning sun and prepare for another day of ham-packed adventures ahead.

  11. SunPork’s Epic Bacon Odyssey: Flavors in a Box Discover a world of flavour with SunPork Fresh Foods’ innovative bacon range. From Apple & Cinnamon to Smoky Applewood, these bacon-in-a-box creations promise a unique punch of taste. Step into the realm of culinary exploration and take home a treasure trove of Kingaroy’s finest.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the tantalizing world of Kingaroy BaconFest, where pork takes centre stage, and indulgence reigns supreme.

Kerry Heaney in Monet in Paris photo garden

Written by Kerry Heaney

Meet Kerry Heaney, an intrepid gastronomic explorer, travelling the globe one delectable bite at a time. Drawing on two decades of experience, she unveils hidden culinary gems and palate-pleasing dishes for your indulgence. A seasoned writer and editor, Kerry's travel stories feature in print and online travel publications, and her food odyssey continues at Eat drink and be Kerry. Follow her escapades on Facebook or join on her latest adventures via Instagram. Kerry's passions include savouring oysters, indulging in art, embracing aquatic experiences, and delighting in new culinary discoveries every time.

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