Crackling and Stripping

8 Dec

That’ll be the crackling on a pork belly, and the stripping of a Victorian Fireplace. Not some traditional pre Christmas party games, sorry to disappoint!

First, the food…for who can work on an empty stomach? Inspired by a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book “River Cottage Everyday” (his crackling was made with coriander and fennel seeds), I gave a thick piece of pork belly a few minutes of love before popping it into the oven with some whole sweet potatoes and ended up with a fabulous lunch and lots of lovely cold pork for leftovers.

Cumin & Anis Pork Belly 009

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 3 heaped teaspoons of cumin seeds (coriander in the original recipe)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of fennel seeds
  • 1 piece of thick-end pork belly (scored, if possible) mine contained 4 ribs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7

Put the seeds into a mortar and crush them lightly. Rub the pork skin with the salt and pepper and just over half the seeds. Scatter the remaining seeds into a roasting tray and lay the meat on top. Cook on high for 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C/Gas 4 and continue to cook for 1 ½ hours.

If your crackling hasn’t fully crackled, turn the oven back up to high and check every few minutes until it is done to your liking. Remove the meat from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm placed (but uncovered) for about 15 minutes. It will stay warm and keeping it uncovered will keep the crackling “crackly”. If you need to leave it for longer before eating, remove the skin and keep that to one side, wrap the meat in foil and keep warm until serving.

Serve with your favourite veggies and be sure to make enough to enjoy leftovers another day!

Meanwhile, all other sensible folk are starting to get their homes in order for Christmas. We, on the other hand, pulled up some horrible carpet which will soon be gone permanently, then the floorboards in the dining room. This was to find the source of the mysterious bouncing floor. A rotten joist awaited us so Big Man set to repairing the damage.

Rotten Joist

Not wanting to be left out of the DIY session, I decided to start stripping the first of the three cast iron fireplaces which were fortunately not ripped out upstairs.

Little Bed Fireplace (1)

We have one in each of the bedrooms and one in the bathroom.

Little Bed Fireplace (3)Little Bed Fireplace (4)

As you can see, I think this may be a long job, but I have a lot of patience for jobs like this, and I love a challenge!


37 Responses to “Crackling and Stripping”

  1. Our Growing Paynes December 8, 2015 at 15:41 #

    That is fantastic looking crackling. Good luck with the fireplaces!

    • Chica Andaluza December 8, 2015 at 16:05 #

      Thank you – I had got the oven good and hot at the start, so it really helped!

  2. narf77 December 8, 2015 at 19:44 #

    No more bouncing on the lounge room floor and a good deal more bliss every time you step into one of these rooms with a restored gorgeous fireplace in it Ms Chica. Sounds like a poific gift to give each other before Christmas and that crackling is the icing on the top of the cracker. I can still taste Christmas crackling and it holds a very VERY fond place in my food memories ;). Those fireplaces? You GO girl! Can’t wait to see how they turn out 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza December 8, 2015 at 21:39 #

      Thank you Ms Narf! I know the crackling is but a memory for you, but hard work in the house is a current affair! Yes, no more bouncing on the ground floor for us (it was right underneath an old dresser I have with my mish mash of lovely unmatched second hand plates which were in danger of leaping to the floor and breaking into many pieces). The fireplace(s) will be labour of love, but when I get back through 6 or 7 layers of paint and think about the families that decorated those fireplaces with love, it does make me feel all nostalgic and happy!

      • narf77 December 8, 2015 at 22:30 #

        Now that is truly optimistic Ms Chica. You are a perfect example of how to look at difficult tasks. You are right. Think of all of those people who lived in your beautiful home before you as part of the fabric that brought it to Christmas 2015. I am smiling just thinking about it 🙂 By the way, good idea to fix the joist under the dresser. If my bowls all went tits up I would have to murder someone!

  3. Mad Dog December 8, 2015 at 20:11 #

    That looks great – I’ll have to try flavouring the crackling like that. What great fireplaces and so nice to have the originals 😉

    • Chica Andaluza December 8, 2015 at 21:40 #

      The flavours were lovely as they came in from above and below. Such a shame that they ripped out the fireplaces downstairs but there is something very decadent about having a fireplace in the bathroom! Welcome back to England J

      • Mad Dog December 8, 2015 at 22:39 #

        Thanks Tanya. I bet you are going to love lying in the bath with a real fire!

      • Chica Andaluza December 8, 2015 at 22:41 #

        And a glass of cava in my hand!

      • Mad Dog December 8, 2015 at 22:54 #

        Of course!

  4. Amanda | What's Cooking December 8, 2015 at 22:10 #

    Wow this looks good. Nice spices. I also like how you’re always taking on projects. Good luck!

  5. Saiful Bahri December 9, 2015 at 05:02 #

    amazing its look so interesting food
    how long you make it????

    • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2015 at 10:36 #

      I cook this often, it takes a couple of hours in a hot oven to start with then a slow oven J

  6. salima aqiqah December 9, 2015 at 05:31 #

    Website Mrs. Chica changed, now there is snow. What is now in Europe or in Spain was winter ?

  7. ChgoJohn December 9, 2015 at 07:03 #

    We must be psychically connected. Tanya. Just today, I found myself staring at a slab of pork belly at a butcher shop, trying to decide if I should make one sometime over the holidays. Reading all of this talk of crackling has decided the matter for me. How could I not?
    How very fortunate that the original fireplaces are still intact. Yes, there’s plenty to do but just think of the end product. Each will be spectacular. (If not, just buy a replacement. I’ll never tell.)

    • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2015 at 10:35 #

      Am chuckling at the thought of cheating! We bought an amazing second hand fireplace for the last place we were in – I think that’s what “sold” the flat. Wish we could have ripped it out and bought it with us J Go for the pork belly, it’s so good cold as well as hot (and easy to slice), and any little bits that may fall to the floor will make Max very happy!

  8. PendleStitches December 9, 2015 at 09:43 #

    That fireplace is definitely worth the effort. I’m sure there should be some sort of law against folk ripping out original features! 😉

    • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2015 at 10:31 #

      I’d back that law! Thought of you last night as I was watching an old episode of “Hetty Wainthropp Investigates” (yes, I admit it!) and she got off a bus which said “Burnley to Pendle”!!

      • PendleStitches December 9, 2015 at 18:20 #

        I’m near to both! I love stuff like Hetty Wainthropp. I’m very excited about the Christmas Agatha Christie!

      • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2015 at 19:06 #

        Ooh yes – sounds a bit dark and mysterious but I’m addicted to all things “Detective”! I shall think of you every time I watch HW 🙂

  9. Food,Photography & France December 9, 2015 at 11:17 #

    Fantastic crackling. I can only gasp in admiration at your limitless energy in refurbishing houses in England. It’s strange how one generation lays on layers of paint and the next struggles to remove it….I had to remove layers of gloss paint from the old stone fireplace here:)

    • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2015 at 14:41 #

      Who knows, in a hundred years they may be stone cladding restored barns and putting up polystyrene ceilings tiles (do hope not though)!

  10. Ria December 9, 2015 at 13:40 #

    That pork belly looks scrummy, glad you’re fortifying yourselves as you tackle the pre-Christmas DIY! xx

  11. Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 10, 2015 at 04:55 #

    Those fire places are worth the challenge 🙂

  12. Raden December 11, 2015 at 05:45 #

    pork contains cholesterol is not high, do you think such foods nourish our bodies.

  13. Kangen Water December 11, 2015 at 13:10 #

    The fireplaces will be labour of love, but when I get back through 6 or 7 layers of paint and think about the families that decorated those fireplaces with love

  14. Cecilia Mary Gunther December 13, 2015 at 15:55 #

    I LOVE crackling but it has taken me years to find an abbatoir that will scald the skin of my pigs instead of stripping it off (along with the fat which makes me so mad!) – but this year I will have a roast with crackling on it at christmas and i cannot wait! c

    • Chica Andaluza December 13, 2015 at 18:42 #

      It’s the same in Spain – you can rarely but pork with the skin on. At least where we are 😦

  15. Karen December 14, 2015 at 16:01 #

    All your hard work will pay off when those fireplaces are brought back for their former beauty. Your pork belly was a delicious reward at the days end.

    • Chica Andaluza December 14, 2015 at 16:17 #

      I do hope so Karen, but I quite enjoy work like this which requires patience!

      • Karen December 14, 2015 at 16:20 #

        Patience makes perfect. 🙂

  16. jamuherbalginjal December 22, 2015 at 11:14 #

    ma’ nyuzz….= pasti lezatos = delicious

  17. restlessjo January 1, 2016 at 20:34 #

    Fabulous fireplace, Tanya! 🙂 Just popping in to wish you health and happiness in 2016. Hope you had a Christmas rest but I bet you were in the kitchen 🙂

  18. Agung Caesar Budiawan March 7, 2016 at 12:16 #

    Very tasty food. I like it..

  19. Rak Sepatu Gantung August 5, 2016 at 20:08 #

    done. i would saved that recipe. very inspired! thanks

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