Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Crispy Pork Belly served on Cannellini Beans, Golden Kumara and Courgette, dressed with Gremolata

Mmmm, Pork Belly.  One of those ingredients which nutritionists would roll their eyes at, with enough fat to keep a polar bear warm over winter, pork belly is one of those indulgent treats.  It's bad for you, but it tastes good.  Everything in moderation right?  So please, only every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday with this recipe, ok?

Make sure you buy a whole piece of pork belly, rather than the slices, or 'fingers', which are often sold in supermarkets.   Most good supermarkets and all butchers can help you out.

The key here is to get fantastic crackling, which we do with high heat, and tender moist meat, which we do with long, slow heat.  So it's really a bit of a mix and match with the cooking. To help us get the perfect crackling we're going to utilize a technique that originates in China.  All over Peking you will find whole ducks being immersed briefly in boiling water which acts to tighten the skin and start the cooking of the fat.

The meat is enhanced through a fantastic marinade of Fennel seeds, Lemon, Garlic and a dash of chilli and cumin.  We're going to serve this slab of perfection upon a vegetable medley mixed with the glorious Cannellini beans (my favorite of the bean family) and to finish we will dress it with a Gremolata.

This dish would be best served as an alternative to a Sunday roast, when you want something a bit different to lamb, as to get best results you really need a bit of time.

Serves 4         
Prep Time 30 minutes     
Marinade Time At least 2 hours, preferably overnight
Cooking Time 2 1/2 hours


750g Pork Belly
1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
Juice of Half a Lemon
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
6 black peppercorns
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Large Golden Kumara, cut into 1cm x 1cm chunks
1 Courgette, cut the same
1 Red onion, finely diced
1 400g can Cannellini Beans (pre cooked)

1 Lemon.  Zest and Juice
2 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
1 Bunch Parsley
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Making the Marinade

  • Dry fry the fennel seeds for about a minute until they are fragrant.  Then do the same with the cumin seeds.
  • Using a mortar and pestle grind the Fennel seeds, Cumin, Pepper and Chilli into a powder.  Add the olive oil and garlic ans squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.
  • Mix thoroughly
  • Take the Pork Belly and make deep cuts across the skin, about every 3cm, cutting most of the way through the fat, but not so far that you can see the meat.
  • Unroll a piece of glad wrap large enough to wrap the pork. Place the Pork skin side down on the glad wrap and then coat the meat with your marinade. Wrap up the meat tightly, then put on a plate and into the fridge to marinade for at least two hours. 

Cooking the meat

  • Put the kettle on and preheat your oven to 240 Celsius.  Not for a cup of tea, but for getting your crackling nice and crispy!
  • Take the pork out from the fridge and unwrap the glad wrap.  Season the meat side of the pork with plenty of salt then place the pork meat side down onto a wire rack inside a roasting dish, ensuring there is a good gap between the rack and the bottom of the roasting dish.
  • Carefully pour boiling water over the skin of the pork.  You will see it start to pucker up, and get tighter.  What you are doing is increasing the temperature of the fat, which is going to help it to get nice and crunchy.  You want the water to go into the roasting dish under the pork until it sits just below, and not touching the meat.  This will help to keep the meat moist while cooking.
  • Pat the skin dry and then season liberally with salt.
  • Place the Pork into the hot oven for 20-25 minutes.  By this time the skin should be nice and golden and crispy.  You can then turn the oven right down to 100 Celsius and leave it to cook for a further 2 hours.

Making the Vegetable Medley

  • When the Pork has about 30 minutes left you can start the Vegetable Medley.
  • Place the Kumara into a pot of boiling, salted water and par boil for about 5-7 minutes.  Drain
  • Heat 1 Tbsp Olive oil in a frying pan and cook the par boiled Kumara for about 10 minutes on medium heat, until they are nice and golden. Remove from the frying pan
  • Heat a further Tbsp Olive Oil and then fry the red onion and courgette for about 5-7 minutes until the onion is cooked and the courgettes are nicely browned.
  • Put the Kumara back into the pan and then add the finely chopped garlic, chopped parsley, zest of the lemon and the juice of the remaining half a lemon.  Fry for a few minutes until the garlic is cooked.
  • Add the drained and rinsed Cannellini beans.  Heat through
  • Take the Medley off the heat and then drizzle over some good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Put it together

  • Take the Pork out of the oven.  If the skin is not as crispy as you would like it you can finish it under the grill but be careful as it can quickly go from not crispy to extra burny crispy!  Leave the meat to rest for at least ten minutes
  • Cut the pork across the belly in the same parts that you scored the skin.
  • Place a decent portion of the vegetable medley onto a plate and top with two slices of the sumptuous pork belly.
  • Serve and enjoy, matched with a nice dry Reisling.  The acidity and sweetness will help to cut through the fat and pair up with the lemon to give an all over taste bud experience.

 And try not to get too addicted to Pork Belly.  I'm almost starting to Oink.

1 comment:

  1. Goes particuarly well with Distant Land Pinot Gris 2010!