• Simple, produce-led food like this pork belly with burnt lettuce and apple best describes Jack's cooking style. (Born to Cook: Jack Stein Downunder)Source: Born to Cook: Jack Stein Downunder

Cooking lettuce may sound strange, but once the leaves hit the pan, all their beautiful natural sugars are released.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (29 votes)


  • 1 pork belly, trimmed, bones removed but reserved
  • 30 g Chinese five spice
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped
  • baby cos lettuce, halved


  • Salt
  • Water
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Start tihs recipe early - the brining process takes 10 hours.

Remove skin from the pork belly using a small flexible knife, cutting through the fat but not into the flesh - you should be left with a smooth white top.

Brine the pork belly overnight for 10 hours in a 10% brine – that is, 10% salt-to-water ratio, with two cloves of smashed garlic, bay leaves, star anise, and a tablespoon of peppercorns. Rinse off the excess salt and transfer into a large pot with the star anise and bay leaves.

Fill the pot with water to about twice the depth of the pork, add in the bones for flavour. Bring the pot up to the boil then quickly drop it down to a low simmer. Leave it on the stove for about three hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, leaving one tray in the oven to heat.

Place the apples into a pot with 100g of sugar and a ladleful of the simmering pork stock. Leave them to bubble for 10 minutes before pureeing with a stick blender. Return to the pan with one tablespoon of butter.

Remove pork from stock, and press it between two heavy trays to flatten it. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the crackling, mix olive oil, salt and vinegar together to form a paste and massage onto the outer side of the skin for 5 minutes. Cut the skin into desired shapes, lay on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven preheated to 190°C for 25 minutes. Take the second hot tray out of the oven and flatten the crackling between the two trays. Return to the oven for 30 minutes.

Once the pork belly is set, remove from the fridge, portion and sprinkle with Chinese five spice and salt. Finish the pork in the pan with thyme and a tablespoon of butter, spooning it over the pork until it is brown and caramelised.

On a ceramic griddle pan, place the lightly baby cos, flat side down, and char it off. Assemble all the pieces on a plate and serve.