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