Crackling and Stripping

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 thoughts on “Crackling and Stripping

  1. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

    1. 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

  2. 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.)

    1. 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!

    1. 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”!!

  3. 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:)

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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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 🙂

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