Not a dish you can turn around at short notice – this takes what was until recently a cheap ‘peasant’ cut and turns it into something special for a festive family occasion (quite appropriate with Christmas fast approaching).
It took me a long time to try belly pork – i just hate fatty meat and lets face it, at the end of the day it doesn’t get much more fatty than this. However, by braising and roasting the pork much of the fat cooks out to leave a really tender and rich cut which just falls part as you eat it.
This recipe uses an overnight soaking in spiced brine to steep those winter flavours into the meat. This really is a terrific dish – incredibly rich. Serve with mashed potatoes and the root veg from the braising
Preparation time – overnight
Cooking time – 3 hours
- 2 ltr Boiling Water
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 250g Salt
- 200g Sugar
- 2 dried Chillies – deseeded
- 1 tsp Black Peppercorns, lightly bashed
- 1 tsp Juniper Berries, lightly bashed
- 1/2 tsp Cloves, lightly bashed
- 1 tbsp fresh Thyme
- 1 Bay leaf
- Grating of fresh Nutmeg
- 1 kg Belly Pork (skin still on and scored with a sharp knife)
- 2ltr Vegetable Stock
- 2 medium Onions, chopped
- 2 large Carrots, cubed
- 1 small Celeriac, cubed
- 3 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Thyme
- 5 cloves
- In a large casserole, make up the spiced brine by adding the water, salt, sugar, onion, crumbled chillies, juniper, pepper, cloves, thyme, bay and nutmeg. Bring to the boil and stir until the salt & sugar are dissolved. Set aside to cool
- When cool enough to put your fingers in without burning, put in the pork, skit side up. Push down to ensure it’s covered with the brine (weigh down if necessary – I put a coffee cup on top then put the lid on to hold it in place) then set aside in a cool place overnight
- Discard the spiced brine mixture and place the pork on a wire rack on the draining board or over a bowl to dry out for a couple of hours. Rinse out the casserole
- Add the dried pork back into the casserole, along with the onion, carrot, celeriac and stock and bring to the boil. There should be enough stock to reach the top of the pork joint
- Transfer uncovered to the oven, 170ºC for approximately 2 hours. Baste every 30 minutes and check to ensure that the stock hasn’t evaporated – add a little extra hot water if necessary
- After 2 hours, remove the pork from the casserole to a rack or plate and cut away the rind with a sharp knife (if you want, you can attempt to turn this into crackling by sprinkling with salt & oil &
returning to the oven on a baking tray, although general opinion would say that as it’s been soaked, it probably won’t work very well…) Leave the meat to rest for a few minutes whilst you make the sticky glaze
- Stir the vegetables to reveal the remaining stock. Add extra hot water if necessary to make a rich, concentrated sauce
- In a pestle & mortar, mix the dark brown sugar, thyme and cloves.
- Gently score the top of the pork with a sharp knife and transfer the meat to a baking tin
- Add a few tablespoons of the vegetable stock from the casserole to the bottom of the tin and rub all of the sugar mixture onto the pork with the back of a spoon stock
- Return the tin to the oven and allow the glaze to melt. Baste every 10 minutes.
- After around 30 minutes the pork will be cooked and the stick glaze coating the joint. Remove from the oven to rest before cutting into thick slices.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables and stock from the casserole