Have I finally cracked crackling?
I've struggled for years with unreliable results, but this really seems to work:
Pre-heat oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
For four people take a 1-1.5kg (say 2 1/2 ibs) piece of boneless, skin on, belly pork. This will be about 10 inches square and 1 to 2 inches thick. Score the skin with a very sharp knife at about 1/2 inch spaces. Now cut the meat across and across again into 4 equal squares (so no carving!). Place meat, spaced a little, skin side up in a roasting tin and scatter chopped onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, garlic etc around meat. Pour round boiling water to come about half way up the meat and stick it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Top up hot water if needed. Remove meat and place in another roasting dish, brush with olive oil and sprinkle over some salt. Back into the oven for 15 minutes. Serve.
The cooking liquid can of course be used to make gravy.
This was given to me by someone who said they had read it recently, so sorry if I've stolen it.
I have a feeling there will be no crisping while the meat is in a water bath for 2.5 hours. Maybe the 15 minutes might do some crisping to the skin. You should go even longer on that 15 minutes if necessary. Place it under a broiler if possible. Make sure the skin isn't covered, and roast it really high to finish it off, as the braised meat will barely be affected by the extra eat the crisp the skin, especially if you save all the juices to serve the meat with.
Thanks for your reply.
Since my post I've tried it again, and despite the water you really do get a lovely crunchy skin. I didn't bother with the oil/salt/ extra 15 minutes and it was great. The water keeps the meat nice and soft, and this time I only added a few garlic cloves, which was fine.
It seems to me that long & low does not get crispness. Long and quite high is required for this wonderful cut of meat.