You could be forgiven for thinking that the clocks haven’t just gone forward an hour, but leapt, galloped, sprinted forward several months, given today’s rather autumnal offering of roast belly pork with apples and red cabbage.
But it was a chilly, overcast sort of day on Friday and I had lots of work to catch up on, so that most forgiving, delicious and inexpensive of cuts, pork belly, ticked all kinds of boxes for our supper for six that evening.
I’d been sent Great British Food, the first (and, I sincerely hope, not last) cookbook by Cass Titcombe, Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone, the trio behind the four Canteen restaurants dotted around London serving classic British dishes such as steak and kidney pie, Lancashire hotpot and apple brandy syllabub to the gratefully, nostalgically nourished masses. Their Slow-roast pork belly with apples was calling my name…
I love this book. I’m going to cook from it a lot. It will become spattered, battered, creased and stained in the Licked Spoon kitchen. Pencil marks will blemish its artfully designed pages. I like the feel of it in my hands, with its brown cover and reassuringly sturdy typeface. Inside are 120 recipes for everything from spicy mutton pie, bubble and squeak, devils on horseback and coronation chicken to steamed syrup pudding, marmalade and piccalilli. I have no doubt it will become a modern classic. So… drum roll… I want to share it. If this is your kind of food, I have an extra copy to give away. Leave a comment below about what your favourite British dish is and why and I’ll announce my favourite response here next Saturday, 3 April.*
We had a lively dinner. Howard brought white roses and French cheeses, Lady de B brought two kinds of chilly treat, home made mango ice cream and mango and lime sorbet, Victoria and Helder brought delicious wine and even more delicious gossip. I can’t think of a better way to launch a weekend.
* If you register a profile before leaving your comment, this will make it easier for me to get in touch with you, but it’s not essential. Just check in next Saturday to discover the winner, and I’ll work out a way of getting it to you if you’re the lucky person. This competition is open to readers outside of the UK too, so get commenting!
Slow roast pork belly with apples
The recipe calls for pork belly on the bone, but my pork shopper in chief, Séan, came back from the butcher with a boned piece. It worked really well too.
1 piece of pork belly, weighing about 2.5kg (on the bone)
1 tsp ground fennel
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves
20g fresh sage leaves
500ml dry cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Cox’s apples
Preheat the oven to 150˚C/300˚F/Gas mark 2. With a sharp knife, score the belly across the skin at 2cm intervals (or get the butcher to do it for you). Season the meaty side of the belly with the ground fennel, 1 tsp salt and some black pepper.
Bash the unpeeled garlic cloves and place them in a metal roasting tin with the sage. Set the pork belly on top. Pour over the cider and sprinkle the surface of the belly with 1 tsp of salt. Cover tightly with foil and roast for two hours. Remove from the oven and turn the oven up to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6.
Drain the liquid out of the tin into a pan. Put the pork belly back into the tin and return to the oven, uncovered, and roast for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour until the skin is crisp. If I doesn’t become crisp enough, remove the pork from the oven, cut off the skin and put it back into the oven to continue cooking until it resembles proper crackling. Meanwhile, cover the pork and keep it warm.
Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Cut them in half and remove the cores. Butter a metal baking tray and place the apples in it cut-side down. Dab a little butter on top of each and sprinkle with a little allspice Put in the oven with the pork and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Transfer the pork belly to a carving board, placing it fat-side down. Slide a knife under the rib bones and cut them off, keeping the knife against the bone. Set aside the meat and bones in a warm place.
Skim off any fat from the cooking liquid, then bring to the boil.
Cut the pork into thick slices and serve with the baked apples, the cooking juices and the ribs.