Slow-cooked pork belly with snake beans and garlic

Serves 5-6

I love rich, sweet, meltingly soft belly of pork whatever the weather – it is one of my favourite meats. The pork in Australia we used was a Duroc Cross and was delicious – at home we use Middle White. Ask for the meat from a female pig; it is always less strong.

2kg/4lb pork belly
1tsp fennel seeds
1 dried chilli, crumbled
1tbsp sea salt
300g/10oz snake beans (available from specialist Chinese stores), topped and tailed
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Using a small, sharp knife, score the skin of the pork. Rub the fennel seeds, dried chilli and salt into the scored fat. Place the pork in a baking tray and put on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake uncovered for an hour, by which time a good crackling should have formed. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil. Return to the oven and cook for a further two hours.

Fifteen minutes before the pork is due to come out, place a pot of water large enough to cook the beans on to boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and when the water is boiling, add the beans. Cook for three minutes, then drain and toss with the olive oil and chopped garlic. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the pork from the oven and slice into wedges. Serve while piping hot with the beans.