Beautifully crisp pork belly roasted in a coriander and fennel seed rub served with a sloe gin, plum and star anise sauce and buttered cabbage. A brilliant, alternative Christmas dinner idea that's totally worth the extra time and effort.
- Preheat the oven to gas 9, 240°C, fan 220°C. Score a crosshatch pattern into the skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife. Rub a little oil all over the meat. Lightly crush the fennel and coriander seeds, mix with a little seasoning, and then rub all over the skin and meat. Scatter with the thyme leaves.
- Put the pork belly onto a rack over a roasting tin and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to gas 6, 180°C, fan 160°C. Add 200ml (1/3 pt) water to the tin and cook for another 30 minutes. Tuck the quartered plums and star anise underneath the rack and roast for another 30 minutes or until the plums are tender and the skin is crisp and golden.
- Remove the pork, plums and the rack and set aside while you finish the sauce. Spoon any excess fat from the tin and place over a medium heat. Add 200ml (1/3 pt) hot water to deglaze the pan and bubble for 3 minutes. Add the sloe gin and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until syrupy and the liquid has reduced by half. Return the plums to the sauce and warm through. Discard the star anise. Season to taste.
- Slice the pork belly and serve with the hot plum sauce and steamed, buttered cabbage.
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