A bright and colourful starter that celebrates the pork belly by Chef Adrian of Wildflower.


Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 4.5 hrs
Serves: 6
Difficulty: Intermediate

  • 800g boneless smoked pork belly, skin on
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the beetroot:

  • 3 whole beetroots (Adrian uses chioggia, deep red and golden varieties)
  • 600ml white wine vinegar
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 crushed black peppercorns

For the crackling:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon mild chilli powder
  • Sea salt to season
  • 500ml sunflower/vegetable oil

For serving:

  • Carrot and star anise purée

A delicious starter that heroes Adrian’s favourite cut of pork, sometimes the belly can be quite fatty so ensure you remove some of the fat after slow cooking. The beetroot will cut through the rest of the fat with its acidity. Use three different variations of beetroot to create a visually stunning dish.

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3
  2. Place the smoked pork belly in a braising dish, scatter with the whole thyme stalks, and fill the tray with water until it covers the pork. Now cover it tightly with tin foil and place into the oven to cook slowly for 3–4 hours. Adrian highly recommends that you cook the pork the day before.
  3. Remove the pork carefully from the braising juices (reserve to use as a stock for soup by cooling and storing in a container in the fridge). Remove the skin and keep for the crackling. If the cut is very fatty, remove some of the fat from the top.
  4. Place the cooked pork on a baking sheet lined with cling film, then place another baking sheet on top with something on top to weigh it down. This will give the pork a firm, even shape. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Peel the beetroots and then, using an apple corer, cut perfect cylinders out of each one. You will need two pieces of each type of beetroot per portion so six cylinders from each beetroot should do. Keep whatever you have leftover for juices and purées.
  6. Line up the cylinders on the chopping board and cut into evenly sized pieces, until you have twelve nice pieces from each beetroot. Aim to cut each a little under an inch in thickness.
  7. Pour the white wine vinegar into a saucepan and add the sugar and peppercorns. Add the beetroot pieces to this pickling liquid and place it onto a medium heat to cook for 35–40 minutes or until the beetroots have softened. You can check whether they are cooked using a small knife. Set aside until serving – they don’t need to be hot for this.
  8. For the crackling, scrape any fat off the pork skin with a small knife. Cut the skin down the middle and then cut into small strips about an inch thick. Place them into a bowl and season with the garlic powder, chilli powder and two good pinches of sea salt. Lay them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and place into a preheated oven at 50ºC/120ºF/gas mark ¼ for an hour and a half or until they are dried out.
  9. Heat the sunflower/vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer and fry small batches of the dried pork skin until it puffs up and becomes light and crisp. Drain on some kitchen paper and set aside until serving. You can make these a day in advance.
  10. To finish the pork belly, once it’s chilled and set, cut it into the desired portions. You should get roughly six out of the 800g. Heat a frying pan and fry the pork belly in the olive oil until nice and crisp on both sides. If the slices are very thick, finish heating them through in an oven at 180ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6 for 5 minutes.
  11. To plate, lay the crispy pork belly on one side of the plate. Arrange two pieces of each of the beetroots on the other side. Squeeze or pipe on a nice dollop of the carrot purée to the side. Finally, place a piece of the crispy crackling on top of the belly and serve.