This post originally appeared in my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned here how much I like being at home. I think if we were in the USA, you’d say I like homemaking, but I’m not quite sure if there’s an equivalent word for it in the UK. I like cooking, cleaning, making my house a lovely place to be, looking after my husband… not very modern career woman of me I know, but I just adore it.
In fact, back when I lived in Nottingham I used this website to write about one of my biggest loves in life: FOOD. Recipes and restaurant reviews mostly, some photography too, but unfortunately when I moved to London I didn’t have enough time to give my food the attention it deserves.
Moving out of the city and cutting down on my socialising (and hangovers!) has meant I’ve can spend a lot more time in the kitchen, and I really want to share my recipes on my blog (not just for my readers, but so I remember what I’ve been cooking, too!). Our Sky+ box is full of cookery programmes and therefore tonnes of inspiration, and I picked up a couple of back copies of Olive from our hotel in Cheltenham last week and dusted off my recipe file. The cookery world is now my oyster! (hah)
I want to begin with a roast, it’s a weekly occurrence in our house and I think a lovely tradition to uphold :
Perfect Pork Belly
Pork Belly is one of our favourite cuts of meat. It’s cheap – the last piece we bought (pictured) was £5 for 1.5kg and lasted 2 of us for 2 meals (I’m sure it would have been more if we weren’t such greedy bastards). When cooked correctly it is one of the most meltingly tender pieces of meat you will taste, and it has the awesome addition of crackling!! Delicious.
I find scoring the skin of the pork the most boring and thankless task, so if possible ask your butcher to do it for you. If you are left with the hard graft of scoring the skin yourself you will need a very sharp knife indeed (a decent stanley knife will suffice if you don’t have one). Score through the skin into the fat but not into the meat.
This recipe is brilliant because it cooks for ages – you can forget about it and get on with your day. It also uses the pork dish to cook some of the veg, saving on washing up!
1.5kg Pork Belly
Sea Salt and pepper
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunky rounds
2 red onions
500ml chicken stock
Score the skin of the pork and make sure it’s as dry as possible. Season the bottom of the meat, then place skin-up in a large cooking dish.
Season the skin with sea salt liberally, using your fingers to get in between the scores. Drizzle with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and rub into the skin (messy but worth it!).
Pop in a very hot oven (260-280 degrees C) for 30 mins, or until the crackling puffs up nicely. Use your judgement with this as you don’t want it to burn, it should form a crispy layer that’s hard to the touch and almost hollow-sounding when tapped with a finger nail.
Turn the oven down to 160 degrees C and cook for another 45mins.
Remove the pork from the oven and baste with the fat. Take out the dish and put to one side; toss the carrots and onions in the pork fat. Replace the pork on top of the veg and cook for another hour.
Remove the pork once more and rest under foil for 10-15 minutes remove the veg (strain if necessary, reserving the juices) which should leave some lovely meaty liquid behind. Add the stock to this and bubble on a low heat whilst the pork rests until you have a nice rich gravy. You can use the roasting dish for this, using the liquid to scrape the tasty bits of pork off the bottom of the dish.
I like to serve this with potatoes roasted with parsnips, and peas.