Yes more ace wild garlic praise in the form of this wonderfully easy roast pork belly recipe. Pork belly is probably my favourite cut of meat when it comes to cooking for a crowd as it’s layers of tasty fat keep it moist during cooking and the skin crisps up to crackled piggy perfection.
Last year I made this for my friend Jess whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years, I basically rocked up with a crate of cooking gear at her gorgeous farmhouse in Dorset and we got hammered on wine, reminisced about our time at school in Colwyn Bay and cooked together, it was heaven. Jess has a big Aga which is perfect for cooking this in, just whack it in the hot oven for 30 minutes or until the skin crisps up then add the cider, cover and move to the gentler oven and leave for about 5 or 6 hours whilst you drink lots of wine. You can pretty much forget about it as it pootles along doing its own thing. I think I cooked for about 12 that night, none apart from Jess I had met before and we had the most fabulous boozy feast that lasted until dawn when Jess accidentally picked up a tube of Veet hair remover cream instead of toothpaste and brushed her teeth, OUCH (you can read more about Jess’s escapades in Dorset in her column for Dorset Life or on her the uncensored versions on her hilarious blog The Dorset Chronicles- Diary of a Farmer’s Wife). The pork however was triumphant, it was an Oxford Sandy & Black pig reared by Jess and her husband Jasper, my god it was without a doubt the best pork I’ve ever eaten, I’ll never forget it.
Everyone gets to hang out by the Aga at Jess’s house, dogs, ponies and foxes…
You could use my recipe for wild garlic, hazelnut and smoky chipotle pesto for this, it would be all kinds of wonderful….
Ingredients: (serves 8)
- 2kg pork belly (if you buy on the bone then remove the bone and use it as a trivet during cooking)
- Sea salt flakes
- bottle of good cider
For the Wild Garlic Pistachio Pesto:
- 100g fresh wild garlic leaves, washed
- 70g shelled pistachio nuts
- 3 – 4 tablespoons good olive or rapeseed oil
- zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, grated finely on a microplane
- freshly ground pepper
- 100g freshly grated grana padano
- few grinds of black pepper
- pinch of sea salt flakes
- Preheat your oven to its highest temperature (around 230C). Using a sharp blade score the skin making sure you don’t go right through to the meat as it will cause the meat will dry out during the cooking process. Pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin of your pork belly then dab dry with kitchen roll, rub in a good pinch of sea salt flakes and leave whilst you make your pesto.
- For the pesto simply pop everything into your food processor and blend until the pesto has a coarse but well mixed consistency.
- Lay your pork belly skin side down then spread your pesto over the meat. Roll and tie tightly using butchers string every 2 inches.
- Lay your joint in a roasting tin (on the bone trivet if you have it) and roast for 20-30 minutes to get the crackling nice and crispy then turn your oven down to 150C, pour the cider around the joint, cover with foil and continue to gently cook for a further 3 hours. If your crackling needs crisping up a bit just whack the oven back up to full for the last 20 minutes.
- Remove the joint from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Bubble the pan juices on the hob to reduce and concentrate, season if need be then pour into a jug be served with dinner.