2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
large pinch crushed dried chillies
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 18cm rosemary sprig
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2kg thick pork belly, unskinned, bones removed
2 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
mashed potato and cabbage to serve, optional
For the gravy
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp plain flour
For the carrots
750g large carrots, peeled, or 750g baby new carrots, topped and tailed, scraped clean
600ml apple juice
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 Place fennel seeds, peppercorns and crushed chillies into a mortar and coarsely grind with the pestle. Add salt, garlic and rosemary leaves and grind until a coarse paste forms. Add oil. Mix to combine. Place pork belly on a chopping board skin-side down and make a series of shallow cuts into the flesh. Spread paste over meat and push down well into the cuts. Set aside somewhere cool for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight, covered, if time permits.
2 Preheat oven to 160˚C. Spread onions over base of a large roasting tin. Place pork on a rack, skin-side up, to rest over top of onions. Rub pork skin well with oil and sprinkle with salt. Pour 600ml water into tin. Roast pork for 2¼-2½ hours or until very tender.
3 Meanwhile, if using large carrots, cut into slices approximately 10mm thick and cut each slice into 3-4 chunky matchsticks. Alternatively, use baby carrots whole. Place carrots into a wide, shallow pan and cover with apple juice. Add ½ tsp salt, sugar, butter and vinegar. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer vigorously for 30 minutes or until carrots are just tender. Set aside and keep warm.
4 Remove pork from oven and increase oven temperature to 230˚C. Return the pork on its rack to the top shelf of the oven but keep the roasting tin of onions out to make the gravy. Roast pork for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until skin is crisp.
5 For the gravy, the onions in the roasting tin need to be nicely coloured. If they are not quite brown enough, place tin directly over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes or until caramelised. Pour excess fat out of tin. Return tin to medium heat. Add vinegar and 50ml water. Cook, scraping base of tin with a wooden spoon to release caramelised cooking juices. Add flour, stirring to combine. Add 250ml water, increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Pass through a sieve into a small, clean pan and heat over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced. Season with salt and keep hot.
6 Remove pork from oven. If skin is only crisp in patches, preheat grill to high. Grill pork, skin-side up, approximately 15cm away from heat, for 2-3 minutes, turning as necessary as each area starts to puff up and crisp.
7 Return carrots to high heat and cook until remaining liquid has reduced and carrots are covered in a sweet, buttery glaze. Add parsley and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
8 Place pork, skin-side down, on a chopping board. Cut through flesh and then skin. Place 2 thick pork slices on each serving plate. Drizzle with gravy and serve with a generous spoonful of carrots, as well as mashed potato and cabbage if desired.