It’s the first bank holiday weekend I’ve spent in London in years. And I wasn’t too pleased about it. Often a weekend in London for me consists of eating / drinking too much one night and then spending one or two days recovering on the sofa getting annoyed that I’ve wasted the weekend!
So I was determined to not waste this weekend. A couple of middle-aged trips to Peter Jones and a garden centre were on the to do list as well as a run – which I actually did shockingly. Then food, drink and rest. All of which happened as well. As did an entire morning lying on the sofa with the mother of all hangovers. Last night, having been for a run, had a healthy brunch and wondered around town a bit I needed to cook something. I defrosted a pork belly and avoided cooking it for most of the weekend, but the fridge was bare to it was pork belly or nowt.
I vaguely followed a BBC Good Food recipe but didn’t have many of the ingredients so here’s my version. I should warn you in advance this recipe takes 3 ½ hours to cook and really shouldn’t be rushed – so it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon job. Oh and it smells amazing for the entirety of those 3 ½ hours!
1 small / medium pork belly
3 small garlic cloves
7 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 heaped tsp of fennel seeds
500ml chicken stock
1tsp crème fraiche
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C
- Score the skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife – this takes quite a bit more force that you might expect, so make sure your knife is as sharp as possible
- Pop the belly in the sink (or in a dish in the sink if you don’t think your sink is clean enough) and pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin – the chefs do this – I’m not sure why but it seems to work on producing improved crackling!
- Dry off the skin
- Finely chop the garlic, thyme and fennel seeds and put into a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, the salt and pepper
- Rub garlic, thyme etc mix into the skin of the pork belly
- Slice the shallots into rings and place on the bottle of your roasting dish
- Place the pork belly skin-side-up on top of the shallots
- Pour 2/3 of the cider around the pork belly and place in the oven for 30 minutes (NOT over the top, don’t want to wash off the garlicky goodness)
- After 30 minutes turn the oven down to 150°C and also pour the remaining cider around the pork and leave in the oven for a further 3 hours
- Take the pork out of the oven and place on a serving dish to rest for ten minutes
- Pour the juice and what’s left of the shallots into a saucepan, add the chicken stock and bring to the boil
- Boil furiously for 5-10 mins to reduce the gravy, stirring all the time
- I served it with leftover mashed potato and freshly podded garden peas
Although it took forever it was so delicious. The smell of the cooking throughout was fantastic and I was very worried that the taste wasn’t going to live up to the smell, but it did. Well worth a try as pork belly isn’t expensive and is quite often on offer in supermarkets.