I don’t think Deja Vu quite fits on this occasion. We have now gone full Groundhog Day. If that’s the case, then perhaps finding one’s true love tonight will bring this all to an end. Failing that, maybe becoming infatuated with some belly pork with miso butter onions & boulangère potatoes will do the trick…
This recipe takes a bit of prep, most notably the potatoes. If, on the off-chance, you’re in the market for cathartic activities at this time, then settle in with your peeler and spuds. Gentle rhythms and a cold beer only heighten such an experience I have come to discover.
It goes without saying that it’s not going to be a normal Christmas for many people this year. Take the time to reach out your loved ones who might be suffering in silence, and to prioritise looking after your own mental wellbeing over the festive period.
Now, more than ever, we need to take whatever enjoyment and peace we can from the small things. If this is simply sharing food and tunes with family and friends, then I’m all for it.
Your list (serves 4):
Pork belly x 500g
Medium white onions (halved) x 4
Potatoes x 1kg
Nori (seaweed sheets) x 6
Fresh ginger (peeled & chopped) x 1 tbsp
Rice wine vinegar x 1 tbsp
Miso paste x 2 tbsp
Lemongrass x 1 stalk
Garlic cloves (crushed & roughly chopped) x 2
Thyme x 5/6 sprigs
Bay leaves x 2
White wine x 300ml
The boulangère potatoes
Start by boiling your potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on some kitchen paper. Slice thinly and add to a large mixing bowl. Melt 50g of butter and add 2 good glugs of sesame oil, before adding to the bowl. Season and mix together well.
Set your oven to 180 degrees celsius. In a square baking tin lined with baking paper, layer your slices tightly. During the layering, incorporate two layer of your nori sheets neatly. Cover and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Leave to cool, and then refrigerate for a few hours.
Once cool enough, slice equally into 4 separate portions. Set aside.
Salt your belly well on the skin side. Leave on for 4 hours or overnight if possible. Wash under cold water, and then pat dry with kitchen paper. Set your oven to 160 degrees celsius.
In a medium size oven dish, place your halved onions. Around them, scatter your garlic, ginger, 1 tbsp miso paste, thyme, bay leaves, lemongrass and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in your white wine, and then around 100ml of boiled water. On top of this, is where you’ll be putting the pork belly. Cover and leave in the oven for two hours.
Remove, allow to cool and then use something heavy (cans of chickpeas etc) to press it down. Leave it like this for a couple of hours. Once flattened, cut into 4 portions and set aside.
Carefully remove the onion halves, and sieve the sauce. Heat the sauce in a pan until reduced by a half, add a good knob of butter and another tbsp of miso paste. Keep warm.
When the time comes, you can simply place your pork slices, potato portions and onions halves on a baking tray in an oven at 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes or so. Once your pork has a beautiful crackling, and your potato and onions are coloured, remove from the oven.
Add the onions back into the sauce. Assemble the meat with the sauce, onions and potato.