Recipe: Pork Belly

As part of my goal to cook more I had a go at doing pork belly tonight. This was using a recipe my sister cooked for us a few months ago, which I’ll share here. This is for 1-1.3kg of pork belly, which should be enough for at least four people (pork belly is very filling) and it takes about 3 hours to cook:

  1. Pre-heat the over to 180c. Chop up five large onions into large pieces and lay over the base a flat, over proof pan.
  2. Score the rind of the pork belly lines 1cm apart, you can ask your butcher to do this for you as it’s pretty tough going. Luckily for me my local butcher (the amazing Ginger Pig) were one step ahead of me. Lay the pork belly over the onions, then pour oil over the top and rub in sea salt and crushed peppercorns to taste.
  3. Put the pan in the lower part of the oven for 1 hour, then remove and baste the pork belly. If there’s not much juice add some water.
  4. Continue cooking at 180c for another 1 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. During this time, peel the potatoes and start them boiling near the end of the cycle if you’re having mash.
  5. Rub 2-3 teaspoons of honey over the rind and put back in the over at 200c for 30-40 minutes. At this point you need to baste every 5 minutes or so keeping an eye on it to make sure the rind doesn’t catch fire or burn.
  6. Remove the pork belly and cut into reasonable size portions and serve over the potato, with the onions & juice over the top.

Mmm.. delish. Also more of a winter dish than a balmy spring night light meal, but in my defence it was quite cold at the market this morning when I decided to try it.

Jess’s Bean Recipe

While I was over in NYC the ever lovely Jess made a splendid vegetarian platter for us to enjoy. One of the things on this platter were heirloom beans, big, flavorsome beans that I couldn’t get enough of, so I asked for the recipe. And since I can’t ever find it when I need it (like now) I’ve decided to post it up for posterity:

  1. First up, find yourself some good, dried beans – ideally not too old. Jess recommends cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo who have a fine selection of heirloom beans. Unfortunately they don’t ship to the UK, so I ended up using a local supermarket packet of crab eye beans (barbunya) and they’ve worked out just fine (if not as wonderful as Jess’s!)
  2. Soak your beans overnight, at least 8 hours. I’ve been using filtered water and changing the water semi-regularly as this helps reduce the bean chemicals that makes you less popular at social events (if you get my drift). If you end up soaking them too much just put them in the fridge to stop them fermenting. The beans will at least double in size, so allow for that, and once they’ve soaked the skins should look a little bit wrinkly. Don’t worry – they’ll absorb more fluid in the next steps.
  3. Once ready, quarter an onion and about 4/5 cloves of garlic and throw in a pan with some olive oil. Cook until nice and brown.
  4. Drain the beans and put them in the browned onions, cover with plenty of water and add some ground pepper. Bring to the boil then pop in a bay leaf (don’t forget to take this out at the end.
  5. Boil for 30 minutes, then turn to medium high.
  6. After 15 minutes add some vegetable broth and salt and keep cooking. You’ll have to keep checking at this point to see how tender the beans are.
  7. Once they’re done, drain and eat! Or put in the fridge for a handy bean salad for the week. Yum!

It’s a great simple dish, dirt cheap, good for you and handy for lunches. The only downside is remembering to soak the beans the night before. So thanks for that Jess, you’ll make a vegetarian of me yet!