My general motto in life is if it is worth doing it is worth over doing. As a result I nearly always over cater for every occasion. I live in fear that I won’t have enough food and the shame!…… oh the shame!…..of someone going home not completely stuffed is just too awful to contemplate. I am not sure if it is my European background that leads me to think that food and feeding is as essential as breathing and a reflection of my generosity and love for those around me or whether I just have an unconscious desire to undo other people’s good eating habits. Whatever the answer the result of this over catering compulsion, is that i have a freezer stacked full of goodies. Every now and then I need to stop buying more food and start using what is in my freezer. One such ‘must use’ item is pork belly.
When I decided to cook pork belly for my last dinner party I was determined not to go too overboard, after all we had nibbles and cocktails, an entrée and we were finishing with trifle. So I did the calculations of how many grams I would need per head….. This was where the trouble started. Given that I am a lawyer and therefore can’t count and I had forgotten about Miss Meat, I slightly over calculated and ended up with a much larger slab of belly than required. In my defence it was not nearly as large as the ham dad brought home one Christmas when left unsupervised, all I will say is we had to evacuate an entire fridge for that ham… But that is a story for another day……. When I got my delightful free range pork home, it also didn’t fit in my roasting dish. Small problem. So I cut of a portion of the belly and carefully wrapped and froze it for a later time. That time was Sunday Dinner.
When I say I am cooking pork belly many people look at me with great admiration as if I have mastered some obscure and highly desirable skill. I can assure you no special skill is required. As a person who dreaded Sunday roasts in my house and usually only ate the potato (I really do love carbs), I came to roasting beasts much later, long after I had mastered pasta and even Pavlova. Given that I am still playing catch up in the roasting skills department, I tend to pick easier meats and pork belly is one of those. The unctuousness of pork belly means it is almost impossible to dry out.
I have seen some very intricate recipes for pork belly which I am sure are delicious but I prefer to leave mine relatively unadorned. I served this for dinner on Sunday with some roast veges, the most important of course being potato.
While I must admit that I can never quite get my pork belly to restaurant standard tenderness , it is lusciously moist and yielding and always a favourite with friends. Despite my personal dislike for crackling this recipe always produces moan inducing crackling for fellow diners who appreciate such things 😉
I have included a gravy recipe below for those who like my father, simply can’t go without some sauce. While you have the brandy out you may as well make a cocktail!
- 650 gms of Pork Belly
- ½ apple sliced
- 1 small onion sliced
- Sea salt approximately 1 tbsp
- Score across the skin of the pork belly making sure you don’t cut through it completely.
- Pour a kettle of boiling water on the skin. This will help it crisp up later. Dry thoroughly
- Rub sea salt into the skin
- Place sliced apple and onion in a pile in the middle of your roasting dish. Place the dried and salted pork on top of this to ensure that it doesn’t touch the base of the dish.
- Pour boiling water in the bottom of the dish until it almost reaches the level of the pork
- Place in 220 degree oven for 20 mins.
- Reduce temperature to 180 degrees and cook for a further 1 hour. Top up boiling water if required.
- To get crackling to perfection. I put on the grill for a couple of minutes at the end
- Place roasting tin on stove
- Pour all but one cup of water out of tray and remove apple and onions and reserve.
- Add some vegetable stock and stir until fully dissolved. Add a good slosh of brandy and simmer for 5 mins to reduced slightly.
- Ad 2 teaspoons of flour and whisk so there are no lumps. Add the onion and apple back to the sauce warm for a few minutes before serving.
Do you like roast dinner? What is your favourite roast vege?