Wild Garlic and Pistachio Pesto Stuffed Roast Pork Belly with Cider

wild garlic stuffed pork belly

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.

Tilly, fox, bandit and frog hanging out by the Aga

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

Method:

  1. 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.
  2. For the pesto simply pop everything into your food processor and blend until the pesto has a coarse but well mixed consistency.
  3. Lay your pork belly skin side down then spread your pesto over the meat. Roll and tie tightly using butchers string every 2 inches.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Advertisements

Roast Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry

Roasting a chicken on a Sunday is one of my favourite things in the world. I know many people like to spend as little time as possible cooking but it’s the opposite for me when it comes to Sunday roast dinner.  Once I’ve returned from the boot sale, where I will have bought my veggies and free range rooster (and lots of other less essential treasures, or as Glen puts it: “more bloody plates, glasses and shit”), I will orchestrate it so I can spend hours pottering away in the kitchen – wine open, Radio 4 on and me doing the occasional little happy dance to myself.

This year I grew Jerusalem Artichokes and whilst I adore their taste I am somewhat less fond of their unfortunate and rather explosive side effects, hence their nickname “fartichokes”.  Glen refuses point blank to eat them anymore and I didn’t want them to go to waste so this recipe was born.  It’s a great way of cooking a chicken as you can leave it happily in the oven for a couple of hours (even 3) and it doesn’t dry out. The chicken takes on all of the wonderful flavours and you get THE most amazing gravy ever. I roast my potatoes in a separate tray in the bottom of the oven then move them up later on.  You don’t have to eat the artichokes, the flavours have infused the chicken, but I can never resist and I always regret it later!

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken/rooster/capon whatever you fancy
  • half a lemon
  • bunch of fresh thyme
  • Jerusalem Artichokes peeled and quartered
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 heaped tablespoon garlic powder
  • 400ml cream sherry
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting, mine is 230C.
  2. Put your lemon and thyme inside the bird’s cavity and put it into a big roasting tray.
  3. surround the chicken with the artichokes and unpeeled garlic cloves.
  4. season the chicken with salt and pepper then sprinkle the garlic powder over the bird  and artichokes.
  5. Pour the sherry into the roasting tray.
  6. Cover with tinfoil making sure there are no gaps for steam to escape then roast for about 2 hours in the top of the oven.  Put your roasties in the bottom for now.
  7. After 2 hours (or longer is fine) remove the tinfoil, drizzle the bird with olive oil and roast uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the skin is nice and brown.  I like my wing tips crispy so always give them a good rub of oil.
  8. Remove the bird and place it on a plate covered in tin foil and a tea towel to rest.
  9. Take your artichokes out of the tray and add them to your roast potato tray which now moves up to where the chicken was to get them all crispy and lovely (or throw them away if you don’t want to be farting furiously later).
  10. The pan juices will taste amazing, just thicken them slightly by making a Buerre Maniè and whisking it into the juices whilst on the hob.