Wednesday 14 October 2009

Beery Belly Pork, Mash & Greens

Having played my first game of indoor cricket of the season (okay with the bat, rubbish with the ball, we lost) I needed some comfort food of the highest order.

So a beautiful side of belly pork bought from Borough Market (sorry Glenn, will pay you back when I see  you!), was in order and it just had to go with mash, so I could play with my new potato ricer! (Pathetic I know, but himself's pressie of a kitchen gadget made me 10 times happier than a bunch of flowers ever could!).

Anyway, on with the show - although this is a low slow cook dish, the beery aspect is key in keeping the pork belly moist and it does require some occasional attention.

You'll need equipment-wise:
Deep roasting tray
Potato ricer or masher (really recommend the former though, makes waaaay better mash)
Wok/large frying pan
Gravy boat

Food-wise for four:
4kg piece of pork belly - rib bones on & get your butcher to score the skin
Two 500ml bottles of full-bodied ale
One onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
Garlic bulb
Bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaf & parsley
4 large floury potatoes
Two big bags of spinach
1/2 a lemon
A pat of butter

  1. Pre-heat your oven to its highest heat, once it's ready put the kettle on, whilst the kettle is boiling roughly chop your onion, carrots & celery and add to roasting tray with garlic & bouquet garni & one of the bottles of beer (reserving just enough for a sneaky swig!), and add some water too
  2. Get pork out of fridge, place on trivet in sink and pour boiling water all over the top, you should see the scoring opening up
  3. Pat skin dry and rub with a generous amount of salt, place the trivet on the roasting tray above the veg & beer mix and put in the bottom of your super-hot oven for about 25 minutes or until the skin is evenly golden
  4. Make sure you keep an eye on the pork during this time to ensure the tray doesn't go dry and the skin doesn't burn, if the tray is looking dry then add more beer from the second bottle (if you haven't drunk it by now!)
  5. When the skin is evenly golden turn the oven down to 150 fan, 175 conventional or gas mark 4, make sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom, top up with remaining beer or water and leave it to slowly cook for at least three hours, checking on the liquid levels from time to time
  6. Your pork is done when you can clearly see that all the fat under the skin has rendered through the meat
  7. At this point take it out of the oven, wrap the base of the belly pork in foil leaving the gorgeous crunchy crackling exposed and leave to rest for half an hour in a warm place
  8. Remove trivet, carefully drain off the excess fat into a clean screwtop jar (reserve for roasting potatoes another time) and place roasting tray on a medium hob, scrape away all that yummy, sticky goodness, squeeze the flavour out of your veg, pop the garlic from its bulb, and then sieve into a saucepan to reduce (how much is up to you, I like thicker gravy but if you like thinner then reduce less!)
  9. After half an hour, peel, chop and boil your spuds
  10. When they are done either mash or rice with butter & milk to taste (my tastes run to obscene amounts of butter, try it!) and season well, keep warm with a good knob of butter melting over it
  11. Warm your dinner plates & gravy boat in the residual heat of the oven
  12. Wash your spinach and then pop it in a medium heat wok/frying pan and leave to wilt down with a generous knob of butter and a good hit of pepper (I sometimes like using chilli flakes in there as well for a bit of a change) and some salt
  13. As the spinach is wilting it's time to carve & this couldn't be easier - simply cut the ribs off the bottom (wrapping them in foil and hiding them from everyone else - I'll explain why in a minute) and simply cut generous slices of pork, making sure everyone's got their share of crackling
  14. Finish your wilted spinach with a squeeze of lemon and plate it up with your potatoes and pork - be generous with the gravy and have a bottle of beer already poured to enjoy with it - I find that a really rich strong ale is perfect, I had a Breconshire Brewery Rambler's Ruin & and a Fuller's 1845 with mine, but do experiment with other beers, I'm pretty sure a decent quality pilsner would do the trick too if you wanted to lighten the experience a little

(Hoarding the ribs explained: the thing about being the chef is that you often get to snaffle choice bits to yourself, whether it's the really juicy 'eyes' of meat on the base of a roasted chicken or the flavour-infused ribs from the bottom of the belly pork. Gnawing on these you'll unearth a really intense beery/aromatic flavour that you can share if you wish but, come on, you've done all the hard work, don't you deserve a reward?!)

I shamelessly pinched the piccy of the pig from these people because they look like they take good care of their animals and allow them to run (or wallow) free, so if you can't get to a decent butcher then maybe order from here


Laurent Mousson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurent Mousson said...

Lovely, That's the kind of dish a German beerhalle yould serve witha Dunkles or Märzen, that is something quite malty, but still dry and bitter enough.
Indeed, a proper pilsner's dry bitterness would work well cutting its way through the smooth fatty side of such a dish...

Web designer said...

God wanted us to be happy and that's why he made beer. I won't be able to live on any other planet because only earth has beer.

Unknown said...

The best way to make mashed potato is with a potato ricer. I prefer to bake the potatoes in their skins before skinning and ricing them. Stops them being watery and you get a little nutty flavour from the skin.

Fun & Fact said...

In my fridge right now: a bottle of albarino, one of red burgundy, and several of Bell’s Oberon and
Dogfish Head beers. No reports of a food fight.