Slow cooker Chinese pork belly slices

I think I’ve mentioned before that we don’t spend a lot of money on presents. We have a budget, which I’m sure others do, and it’s quite small! It means you have to be quite creative but also means it’s not all about the gift, it’s about the whole day. And for us, it’s always about the food.

Yesterday started with a full English breakfast for hubby on Father’s Day. We were at a wedding the day before so I asked him to put his order in on Saturday so I could write all the timings out when I was awake, thinking I’d be pretty tired. I’m glad I did! His gift was a Lego Batman LED keyring to replace the one-armed faceless and now lightless Lego keyring I bought him years ago. I’m not sure who liked it more – him or our son.

As an aside, I love that Father’s Day isn’t just about children saying ‘thank you’ to their fathers – I kept saying ‘thank you’ to hubby, too. It’s as much me showing my appreciation of him as our son. And I love that Father’s Day is seen as an opportunity for fathers to spend time with their children, but on Mother’s Day it’s kind of a day off for mums! Spent with the family, yes, but a chance for mum to relax!

Anyway, we had planned to head off for an afternoon of fun straight after church, so after making breakfast and getting myself ready, I was back in the kitchen preparing a picnic and putting dinner in the slow cooker. We were going to have Chinese pork belly, the pork belly we’d bought reduced from the meat counter at our supermarket a couple of months ago and put in the freezer. I’ve made Chinese pork belly twice before in the oven but I didn’t want to put pressure on us having to be home by 4.30pm to cook it.

I therefore scoured the first few pages of Google for advice on how to cook it in the slow cooker. There were a variety of recipes from Chinese-style to casserole and mixed comments on the finished dish – too dry, tasted amazing, didn’t taste of anything. So I just went and did my own thing (recipe below) which, thankfully, turned out just lovely. We were all tired by the time we got home so it was nice to be able to sit down for half an hour before putting the final touches to dinner, rather than walk through the door and straight into the kitchen.

My birthday is coming up and hubby will be making breakfast and dinner (he’ll be at work during the day – maybe our son will make my lunch?!). It’s a lovely break for me and he always cooks something exciting and puts more effort into it than I do on a daily basis. Two celebrations in one week!

Slow cooker Chinese pork belly slices
Serves 3-4 (depends how much pork you want – we had one slice leftover between 2 adults and one child)

2 thickly chopped carrots
5 pork belly slices (would work with pork belly joint too, just check it fits in slow cooker first)
2 tsp Chinese five spice
2 star anise
Black pepper
Water
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove crushed garlic

To serve:
Noodles or rice
Vegetables (we had mange tout, baby sweetcorn and pak choi)
Plum sauce
Prawn crackers

Place the chopped carrot in the slow cooker and lay pork belly slices on top, skin side up. Sprinkle five spice and black pepper onto the pork. Add enough water so that it comes about half an inch up the side of the slow cooker. Add soy sauce and the garlic. Switch slow cooker onto low and leave for 6-8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium. Place pork belly slices on a grill tray, skin side up. Grill until the skin is as crispy as you like – about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with noodles or rice and veg. Heat some plum sauce and pour over the pork belly slices.

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