One of the most iconic Christmas recipes in Norway is the Norwegian ribbe. Ribbe or roast pork belly is a traditional Christmas dish that can be found in more than 60% of households in Norway on Christmas eve. The recipe is simply spectacular but also easy to make. You have to start with a good piece of meat.
Where to buy pork belly
Try to buy your pork belly from a local butcher. You can for sure find it also in big supermarkets, but I encourage you to try and buy it locally. By doing this you are also helping the community around you, and most of the time the quality of the meat will be much better if you buy it from a butcher shop.
Ask your butcher for pork belly with ribs. You should buy a piece of roughly 2 kg (4,4 lb) with the rind on it. The pork rind is essential for the Norwegian ribbe recipe as this will expand and become crispy. It should also have a good amount of fat under the skin and be as even as possible. An advantage of buying from a butcher is that you can ask him to saw through the ribs, so it will be easy to pull apart when it’s cooked.
Preparing pork belly
The first thing to do when preparing the pork belly will be to saw through the ribs (if not done by your butcher). This will make life easier when the Norwegian ribbe is cooked as you can break it apart and serve it with ease. The next step will be to cut through the pork rind in a cross pattern. The cut should not be very deep, cut only the rind and the fat, not the meat.
Use a good amount of salt and pepper and rub the pork belly on all sides. Place it in foil and into the fridge for at least 24h.
How to cook pork belly – Norwegian ribbe
For making the perfect Norwegian ribbe the cooking process of the pork belly should be carefully followed. You must preheat the oven to 130 degrees C (266 F). Until the oven heats up, take out the pork belly from the fridge and salt it again only on the rind side.
In a baking tray pour some water. Place the pork belly in, but on a grate such that the meat will not touch the water. If you do not have a grate, you can also use some ovenproof ceramic upside down in the baking tray and place the pork belly on it. The pork belly should be with the rind side, up.
Add some garlic cloves (unpeeled) to the water, and place the baking tray in the oven for 3 hours. Every hour, baste the pork belly with the mixture of water and fat from the tray.
After 3 hours, baste the pork belly again and increase the oven temperature to 230 degrees C (446 F). Keep it in the oven for another 2-3 hours, until all the rind has expanded. Keep basting the pork belly every hour until it is done.
Once all the rind has expanded, take the Norwegian ribbe out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving it.
What to serve with Norwegian ribbe – crispy pork belly
Traditionally the Norwegian crispy pork belly is served together with boiled potatoes, sausages, and pickled cabbage. You can serve it with different side dishes that you like or you can also try our recipe of roasted mushrooms.