We love pork belly, but here it is more traditionally used as “pancetta”, boiled in stocks and soups to add flavour or cut into tiny chunks and done on the plancha (griddle) or deep fried as a little tapas. Often it will have the skin removed.
Big Man knows that I don´t like the flowers sold in the very few florists we ever come across here (funeral meets petrol station bouquet) so I am romanced with food surprises. Cheese covered in rosemary, tangy little apples to remind me of England, bunches of wild asparagus, a freshly caught rabbit, mushrooms which have been foraged for, and yesterday a belly of pork with the skin on. Now that´s what I call love.
Today the sun is shining, time to get to work in the garden and vegetable patch, so I needed a dish that I could forget about for a while. This recipe from my old favourite, the BBC Good Food Website, seemed to fit the bill. I did change it slightly as several people commented on the sauce being very sticky and leaving them with some scary washing up. Not for me, I thought, and worked around it.
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 60ml vinegar (I used white wine)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 star anise, broken up slightly
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 100ml rice wine or sherry (I used a dry fino)
- 1kg boneless pork belly
Turn the oven on to its lowest setting.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and warm gently until the honey has melted.
Line a small, deep baking tin or dish (one that will fit the meat quite snugly) with greaseproof paper making sure it comes up the sides. I used a large sheet and just placed it in the tin, scrunching it round the meat once it was placed in the tin.
Pour the sauce into the tin then place the meat on top, skin side up. Gather the paper up a little and then make a lid of aluminium foil so that the meat is sealed in the tin.
Cook slowly for about 3 hours, test the meat at the end of this time to ensure the meat is no longer pink. If it is, leave in for a little longer.
Now turn the oven up to the highest setting. Drain the sauce off the meat into a small pan and replace the meat in the baking tray, still skin side up. Continue cooking the meat until the top has turned crispy. Mine took about 45 minutes but you could always put it under a hot grill instead (not too close though or it will just burn).
Meanwhile remove any fat from the top of the sauce (I did this with a small ladle) and then fast boil the sauce until it has thickened slightly.
When the meat is done, cut into slices and serve with some of the sauce poured over. We ate ours with plain boiled basmati rice and spinach, picked only an hour before from the garden, which was simply steamed.
Now…has anyone noticed a slight improvement in my photos today? I do hope so! When I was in the UK last week I picked up my new (well, new to me) camera. It´s a Nikon D60 and I am a total photography virgin when it comes to the camera I now have. It has a couple of lenses. One of them, I am sure, will be able to pick out the hand of cards Big Man is holding when playing with the old boys in the summer if he is sat on the terrace of the bar down the road. I haven´t even read the instruction book yet, so am going to enjoy playing with it over the next few months. Wish me luck…but don´t worry Roger, you have nothing to fear from me…