Christmas has always been a lo-key event for my family and I. The majority of our family live in Massachusetts, which is quite a ways away from us, so we pretty much never see our family around the holidays. The only time we spent Christmas in MA was one year when I was in college and my dad and I stayed in MA over my winter break. It was my first (and only) White Christmas and my first time at the very large family Christmas party. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe that everyone in the room was related to me.
Fast forward to the present and we’re back to having just the three of us for holiday celebrations. For the past three years prior, I’ve spent Christmas Day with Jake, the kids, and his family and I felt that I should spend some time with my folks on Christmas Eve this year. Jake came over for dinner and I devised a plan to make Roast Pork Belly for Christmas Eve dinner.
There are so many different recipes out there for making roast pork belly (with the crispy, crunchy, delicious crackling on top). I read so many recipes that I can’t remember where I gleaned everything from! I read somewhere to score the skin and rub salt all over the top and to dabble some rice wine vinegar on top of the skin and then park it in the fridge (uncovered) for 24 hours. This is supposed to help draw all of the moisture out of the pork skin for a crispier finish. There’s an extensive article on How to Make the Perfect Pork Crackling where a woman tries 7 different methods on making pork belly. My favorite tidbit? One batch uses a hair dryer to further remove moisture from the pork. Hardcore.
I was not hardcore enough to blow dry my meat or to par-boil it first. I just did the easy stuff. I did coat the bottom of my meat with a little rub that included salt, pepper, some cajun seasonings, sugar, and garlic powder before it was parked in the fridge overnight (only on the bottom meat!).
Once it’s ready to start cooking, I cranked up our little turbo oven as high as it would go and placed the pork into it. I had to flip these halfway through since the bottom one needed some extra love so in the future I’d do a smaller piece or do this in the oven instead. This roasted at the highest setting (about 450 degrees) for about 30 minutes and started getting lovely and crackly. Since I was watching it like a hawk, I could hear it pop and crackle and even watched as the bubbles and cracks started appearing the meat. I put the temperature down to about 325-350 degrees for another 30 minutes. Mind you, this is a convection oven so it doesn’t take as long to cook. Most recipes that did this in a regular oven cooked the roast for another 1-2 hours over low heat.
I let the meat rest for a bit before handing it over to mom for chopping up. But here are a few photos before being chopped up for consumption.
In retrospect I would try not to score the skin so deeply and also let it go on high for a little longer. But all in all, the skin was crispy and crackly (and yummy) and the meat on the bottom was juicy and lovely. So good! I will definitely be making this again in the future, and hopefully not just for holidays.