Sunday, 15 January 2012

Recipe XLII - Roast Belly of Pork, Red Cabbage and Roast Potatoes

It's Sunday, it's freezing outside, I've swum 40 lengths in the pool, there's Sherlock on TV this evening and I want a warm, glowing feeling inside whilst I'm watching the final of the professional darts on BBC2. I need something that cooks itself, so I can watch the opening rounds of the darts without spending too long in the kitchen. The oven is the perfect tool for my lazy evening. Here's a true winter warmer!

Ingredients for the Pork:
600g belly of pork
5 medium to large cloves of garlic
10 whole peppercorns
A large pinch of salt
A nob of butter
Some cooking fat
7 medium-sized potatoes

Instructions for the pork:
Take a deep and large baking tray and put some butter and/or oil in it, and switch on the oven to 175°C, putting the baking tray in to heat up. Peel your potatoes, cut them into manageable pieces and parboil them for 10 minutes.
While this is going on, with a very sharp knife, cut off the pointy bits of the pork and give them to your cats/dogs, then slice through the skin of the pork. This stops your meat getting singed round the edges, and gives you manageable slices of pork crackling (my favourite part of a pig!), but it also means your meat will cook more effectively.
Then cut some holes in the pork and fill them with half-slices of garlic and a whole peppercorn.

Before putting it in the oven, don't forget to salt the skin very well by rubbing it in. Put some on the meat underneath too. To avoid using too much salt, take little but sprinkle it in the right location.

At the same time as you put the pork in, your potatoes should be boiling nicely, and in ten minutes you can transfer them to the same baking tray.
When you do this, make sure you splash the oil all over the potatoes, to give the skins a truly crispy outside, and a soft interior.

Ingredients for the red cabbage:
1 small to medium red cabbage
10 peppercorns
2 glasses of red wine
1 onion
Some butter
1-2 apples (cored and chopped)

Instructions for the red cabbage:
Take the red cabbage and cut it into thin strips. Salt and steam it until it is almost soft (20 minutes with the lid on should do it). In a high-sided frying pan, heat some butter and fry a thinly-sliced onion until it sweats. Take it off the cooker, turn the heat right down, give it a minute to cool, add the red wine, the apple, the cabbage and the peppercorns to the pan and simmer it for as long as you wish with the lid on. Some add raisins, some add nutmeg, but I chose not to this time.

Putting it all together:
With the last 5 minutes of cooking, you might wish to turn up the oven to 200°C, just to brown the potatoes and pork skin. Upon removing the pork from the oven, you will find it easier to divide into pieces, because you cut the skin earlier on.

Having put the pork and potatoes on the plate, take the oil and spoon it into the pan with the red cabbage. This will make the basis of your gravy, along with the juice and red wine still in the bottom of the pan. Swirl it around a little, add the red cabbage to your plates and spoon the gravy over it. Serve in front of the TV and don't be scared to pour yourself a glass of sweet red wine - Greek, Bulgarian or Croatian red wine goes down perfectly!

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