It’s the weekend. Can you feel it? It may be slightly drizzly, a little gray and January but it’s the weekend. That means that I have the urge to feed my husband big time. We experiment in the kitchen at weekends. Whatever takes our fancy we cook and invariably these recipes end up on this website that you’re currently looking at.
Today’s recipe is such an experiment actually.
Over Christmas I was given a belly of pork to cook. I had cooked it in the autumn and the recipe for this can be found here but with this joint I wanted to take my time. I wanted to sloooooww it down somewhat. So I did, I slowed it right down, and ended up pulling a slice of heaven out of the oven four hours later.
I was all set to serve the pork belly with the usual spinach, potatoes and various other accompaniments but that wasn’t the mood I was in. I wanted a Pork Belly Sandwich. I wanted to place the meat that was dripping from the ribs, leaving them clean, in to a soft, white floury bap and I literally wanted to shove the whole thing in to my mouth in one go. And a few nights ago, as supper rolled around, that is exactly what I did. I should say that my husband and my mother-in-law did very much the same thing too. You see this isn’t just any old meat sandwich. This is the best pork sandwich you’ll ever try.
And it is PERFECT for the weekend.
Which is rather fortuitous as it’s Friday today.
This is belly of pork and this joint weighted in at about 1.6kg
It was scored by my butcher, it’s vital that they or you score the skin. I then blotted the entire joint with kitchen paper getting it as dry as I possibly could. The presence of water will stop the skin from crackling which is why it is best to get your pork belly from your butcher as supermarket joints will have huge amounts of water and additives pumped in to the skin and no amount of blotting will get it out. I even blotted in amongst the scored skin. Then I rubbed Maldon Sea Salt on to the skin and in to some of the cracks and patted in in place.
It went in to the top of my oven at the highest possible temperature for twenty minutes. I then removed the joint and put it into a cooler oven, 140c, for three hours and then turned it down a further ten degrees to 130c for the last hour.
Twenty minutes before I was wanting to serve my rolls to the waiting crowd of two(!) I pulled the joint from the oven and removed the crackling from the top of the joint with a sharp knife. I then returned the crackling to the top of my very hot oven and left it to turn in to the best crackling in the land.I basically grilled it.
Now a word about crackling – you may find that your crackling has turned out perfectly and that you don’t need to remove it and grill it. You can tell by giving it a little knock. If it is hollow sounding and hard then it has crackled. If it has a dull sound when tapped and is a little bouncy or bendy then it needs longer in a very hot oven. But I removed it because I wasn’t prepared to scorch my beautiful slow cooked belly right at the last minute.
When your crackling is done leave it to one side to cool a little so that you can handle it. Meanwhile pull the meat apart from the bone with two forks and place on to a serving platter.
Break the crackling up in to bite sized pieces and place those on to the platter also.
And serve in soft, white, floury baps with my divine and ruby red Cranberry & Apple sauce.
This sauce is quite wonderful and is so good for many of the fattier meats such as pork, duck and goose. It is a great excuse to use any bags of Cranberries that you may have sitting around after Christmas and also demystifies the making of your very own Cranberry sauce for next year as you’ll be an expert by then.
- Place 300g of whole cranberries in to a saucepan on a low heat
- Add one large or two small peeled and chopped Bramley Apples to the pan
- Pour in 100g of caster sugar and stir well not allowing the sugar to scorch under any circumstances until it has dissolved, hence the low heat
- For a few minutes allow the juices from the Cranberries and the Apples to begin to flow out and soften the fruits
- Drop a Star Anise in to the pan and a dash of pure orange juice
- Cook very slowly for about twenty minutes on a low heat, mashing the fruits up in to one another in the pan as they continue to soften further
- At this time add a dash of water and cook for a further ten minutes
- Remove from the heat and mash together until you have a pulp
- Pass the pulp through a fine mesh metal sieve and then place in to a serving bowl with a spoon
- Allow the sauce to come to room temperature
This is the consistency you’re after. If, when you try to pass the sauce through the sieve it gets stuck then put the whole lot back in to the pan with a further dash of water for two minutes and then try again. You’ll be an expert at quantities the second or third time you make it so it really isn’t anything to do with you.
It is wonderful for spreading on to the white baps before filling them with the soft pork meat and also as a dipping sauce for pieces of crackling.
This is a divine and decadent nod to the humble Pork Sandwich and is thoroughly worth the time spent with the joint cooking slowly. You don’t have to do anything once it’s in. That is the beauty of such a fatty piece of meat, it does it all for you.
Which is how I like it…….occasionally!
I love you. Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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