Just as things start to heat up considerably in London, I think it’s safe to say ‘unpredictable’ would probably be an understatement for 2018’s weather so far. With past weeks switching between rain, snow, sunshine and back to sporadic snow, it was at times, a bit jarring.
There is however one thing you can always depend on.
Some of the most simple ingredients come together in the dish, and with just a bit of preparation time the day before, this crispy pork belly with butter beans is the perfect oink-ment (couldn’t resist, sorry!) for any dubious British weather.
Here are a few tracks to accompany your upcoming lazy days in the sunshine.
Shopping list (serves 6):
Pork belly (unrolled and scored) 1kg
Smoked garlic x 1
Medium onions x 2
Fennel bulb x 1
Large carrot x 1
Fresh thyme x 1 bunch
Bay leaves x 2
Dry white wine x 1/2 bottle
Fresh lemon thyme x 1 generous handful
Butter beans x 1.2 kg
Cavolo nero x 150g
(To coat pork belly)
Pomegranate molasses or acacia honey
Some good olive oil
Start the night before by rubbing your scored pork belly generously with rock salt, making sure not to forget to rub the salt into the scoring on the skin.
As the time arrives, set your oven to 200 degrees celsius, and wash the salt off your pork belly under cold running water, and pat dry with kitchen paper. When dry, rub generously with your pomegranate molasses, fennel seeds, a tbsp of the mustard, some good olive oil and of course salt and pepper.
On medium-high, heat a few glugs of your olive oil in a deep roasting tray. Slice your garlic down the centre and press down the two halves into the hot oil. At this point, dice your vegetable roughly (I like to chop the carrots slightly finer than the rest), and add them into the tray as well.
Keep them on the heat until they’re starting to caramelise nicely, around 10 minutes. Add the white wine, bay leaves and your thyme. Reduce on a high heat for another 5 minutes, before resting your pork belly on the vegetables, skin side up. Wrap the tray in tin foil tightly, before placing in the oven.
Turn the temp down to 130 degrees and leave for 4 hours.
When the time’s right, remove the belly from the oven and transfer to another baking tray. On top of the belly, place a sheet of cling film and another baking tray, weighed down with a few heavy tins of tomatoes, chickpeas etc. Leave it to cool for at least 2 hours like this.
To make the sauce, add a splash more white wine to the roasting tray, and reduce on a high heat again for another 5 minutes. At this point you may want to add around 100ml of boiling water to pad out the sauce slightly. Keep it on the high heat for a further 5 minutes, before straining into a small saucepan.
Add a chunk of butter if you want, and leave to one side.
Add your butter beans to saucepan, with a small splash of boiling water, a glug of your good olive oil, the lemon thyme and season well. Heat gently for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, place your pressed pork belly under a hot grill, until the top is sufficiently crispy and then slice into cubes to serve. Accompany with the beans, hot sauce and some steamed cavolo nero, if you like. Time to pig out (Sorry!).