Rosie writes: "Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad usually made with juicy tomatoes. There’s a foolproof recipe for that in my cookbook A Lot On Her Plate, but this is a new version made with the ripest, sweetest peaches—a fine match for salty, fatty pork belly. I use pickled shallots in the salad for acidity and peppery wild arugula for an extra kick. The key to getting really crispy crackling is to have super-dry pork skin, so it’s good to prepare your pork the day before so that the skin can dry out in the fridge." —The Curious Pear
For the pork:
to 1 kilogram slab boned-out pork belly (get the butcher to score the skin in a cross-hatch pattern)
bicarbonate of soda
red chili flakes
For the peach panzanella:
shallots, finely sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
ground white pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
slices day-old sourdough, torn into chunks
basil, stems removed
In This Recipe
My friend and fellow cook Uyen Luu taught me a foolproof way of getting really crackly crackling: Poach your pork belly in some bicarbonate of soda for 5 minutes before you prep it. Here's how: Fill a large pot with water, bring it to the boil, and add the bicarb. Submerge your pork belly and poach for 5 minutes. Remove from the poaching bath and lay out on a work surface, skin side down.
Toast the fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a small dry pan for a couple of minutes, until fragrant, being careful not to burn the chilli and fumigate your kitchen.
Grind the spices with the salt in a mini processor or mortar and pestle and then stab the flesh of your pork belly with a knife.
Rub over the spice mix gently. Turn it so it’s skin side up and dry the skin with kitchen towel. Lay it on a baking sheet or roasting tray, skin side up, and leave uncovered in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight.
Bring the meat out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you roast it. Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
Put the pork in a roasting tray and cook for 15 minutes, until the skin is starting to crackle and bubble. Then turn the heat down to 320° F (160° C) and cook the pork for another 50 minutes. Finally, turn the heat up to 430° F (220° C) and give the pork one final blast to crisp up the skin for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
While the meat is resting, assemble the panzanella. Quick-pickle the sliced shallots in a bowl with the cider vinegar while you remove the pits from the peaches and slice them up. Put them in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour over the olive oil. Add in the capers, shallots and their vinegar, and the capers and toss together. Add the torn bread, arugula, and basil and toss one last time before serving.
Cut the pork into slices and serve next to the salad.
Best friends Issy and Meg have spent the last decade sitting across tables from each other, travelling the world knife and fork in hand. Photographing bowls of steaming noodles, exotic street food and some of the world's most exciting cooks, Issy makes up the photography side of the duo, while Meg records each bite in words. Considering their equal obsession for food and each other, it was inevitable that the two would eventually combine to become The Curious Pear, intent on bringing you reviews, food features and interviews with the culinary crowd, as well as pieces on their favourite eating spots from around the world. The Curious Pear are the contributing Food Editors at SUITCASE Magazine, bringing you a weekly food column at suitcasemag.com, as well as contributing for Time Out, Food52, Life & Thyme, Trends on Trends, Guest of a Guest and more!