A few weekends ago we celebrated two birthdays by making a celebratory Sunday lunch.
I went to Beeston after work on Friday specifically to visit a local butcher (JA Barnsdale). They had beautiful pork so I bought pork belly to roast on Sunday. I got up early, whilst everyone else slept, to smother the pork in thyme and garlic and begin it’s three-hour roast. To accompany the pork there were roast potatoes (made using my killer method mentioned here), cauliflower two ways (which we made with Jen in South Africa and was just as good a second time), apples and onions cooked in the pork gravy, and a beetroot and carrot salad with ricotta. It was spectacular. We drank an Italian red wine brought by Sarah (our family wine nationalities are expanding) and afterwards there were long naps and the reading of books, and cake.
Three Hour Roast Pork
Adapted from Ottolenghi
Ottolenghi’s recipe uses rosemary (which I did not have) and white wine. I changed it to use thyme only and apple cider, because I love love love pork and apples.
1 piece pork belly (ask your butcher to score the skin and get enough for the number you’re feeding. You can also get the butcher to remove the bones.) I used approximately 2kg
a bunch of thyme
head of garlic, divided into cloves
125ml olive oil
500ml apple cider
2 cooking apples (Granny Smith or Bramley)
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Strip the thyme leaves from the woody stems. If you’ve got young thyme, you can use the stems too. Roughly chop this. Peel the garlic cloves and roughly chop.
In a pestle and mortar (or a blender, if you’re in the 21st century unlike me) place the thyme and garlic. Add in a pinch of salt and the bash until it is roughly mashed together. Add in the olive oil, a little at a time, to loosen and create a paste. Place the pork belly skin-side down in a roasting tray and smear the paste onto the meat. Massage in. Carefully turn the pork belly over. Dry the skin and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.
After an hour, the crackling should have started to develop. Turn the oven down to 170C and add in the apple cider. Roast for another hour. In the meantime, peel and slice the onion and apples into quarters. Turn the oven down to 110C. Add the apples and onions to the cider surrounding the pork. If you crackling is starting to darken, you can cover it with foil. Continue to cook the pork for another hour.
After three hours, remove the pork from the roasting tray and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing into pieces.
Remove the onion and apples from the juices and place into a serving dish. Pour the roasting juices into a pan and rapidly boil to reduce. Serve this alongside the pork. Devour.