I want to share this recipe mainly as a reminder to myself of how to get great crackling! I finally achieved a deliciously golden crunchy crackle atop juicy, fragrant pork belly.
As a lighter, something different, as recommended by Ottelenghi in his Nopi cookbook I made a walnut and apple salsa to serve alongside the pork with some sauteed potatoes and kale and sprouts.
For the Pork
1kg Pork Belly
Half a Lemon
Coarse Sea Salt
12 Sprigs Thyme
10 Cloves Garlic – crushed, with skin on
10cm Ginger – sliced
4 tsp Lemongrass Paste
500ml White Wine
For the Salsa
1 Apple – diced
50g toasted walnuts – chopped
50g pickled walnuts – chopped
Small handful of chopped tarragon
2tbsp Lime Juice
1tbsp Rice Vinegar
2tbsp Olive Oil
Pre-heat oven to 200degs – it needs to be very hot to achieve good crackling. Get the pork and pork skin as dry as you can – I left mine out of the fridge at room temperature on a plate for an hour. Rub the lemon half all over the skin ensuring the juice covers the top – and leave for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes had passed, rub the skin thoroughly with the salt.
Place the herbs and aromats in a roasting tray and pop the pork belly on top – skin side up. Pop in the oven for an hour.
After the hour, the skin should be hard, golden and cracked! Rub any excess salt off and shower again with a little more salt – pop back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
The next step involves carefully pouring the wine and water into the roasting tray ensuring none of it goes onto the top – we dont want to lose the crackle!
Back into the oven again (yes I know its a lot of in and out, opening and closing the oven door!) at a lower temperature of 175degs for 45 minutes.
Now its time to make the salsa – simply mix all the ingredients together. For the pickled walnuts, i warmed a mixture of white wine vinegar and sugar with some peppercorns and left the walnuts in it for 30 minutes. This little salsa is a refreshing, zingy accompanyment to the rich pork.
When the pork is ready you should be able to cut through the crackling and straight into a silky soft layer of fat on top of the moist meat. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes. Serve in beautiful slices with the salsa and some greens.
Good Luck – may the crackle be with you!
New Year’s Day dinner this year was Ottolenghi inspired. Chicken Sofrito with Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad and Roasted Tahini Squash. I did lots of research for Sofrito and found that each region makes it differently and Sofrito axtually refers more to the cooking method – the meat is lightly fried in a little oil and is then left to cook slowly in a pan on the hob, in steam created from its own juices.
I used Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book as my inspiration for this meal but made a few changes – firstly I have kept the chicken whole for cooking, and, as im on a new year’s detox I ommitted any salt and sugar from the recipe. Elix announced she couldn’t tell as there is so much flavour from the marinade!
This meal was hearty and healthy – a perfect way to start 2017.
1.4kg Organic Whole Chicken
1 onion – quartered
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
a tiny drizzle of agave nectar (or 1/4 tsp sugar)
1tbsp Grapeseed Oil
6 Garlic Cloves
2 medium sized potatoes – peeled and diced
Fry the chicken, whole in a large pan so that it turns light, golden brown on the outside. Whilst this is frying, mix together the paprika, lemon juice, turmeric and agave. Remove the chicken and brush all over with the spice mix. Pop back into the pan with the lid on and leave to cook for an hour. If the bottom of the pan becomes dry, just add a little water.
After an hour, remove the chicken from the pan. In an oven dish, pour the chicken sauce with the onion, garlic and diced potatoes and place the chicken on top. Pop into the oven at 180 degs for 30 minutes, this will given enough time for the potatoes to cook, the chicken skin the crisp up and the sauce to infuse with the garlic and onion and become your gravy! Serve the chicken simply, carved for the table to share with the gravy and potatoes on the side.
I served my chicken with a couple of sides which were super easy and healthy.
Roasted Squash with Tahini – Half and slice a butternut squash and roast in the oven, scattered with ground cumin and drizzled with olive oil for 40minutes. Serve with 50g roasted pinenuts and drizzle with a dressing made of 4tbsp tahini, 2tbsp lemon juice and a grated garlic clove. To serve sprinkle 1tsp of za’atar on top.
Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad – chop half a cauliflower into tiny florets and roast for 30minutes. For the last 10 minutes add 30g hazelnuts to roast. In a sepearate salad bowl, slice one stick of celery diagonally and mix with a handful of parsley leaves and a handful of pomegranite seeds. Make a dressing of 1/2 tsp ground cinammon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1tbsp Cider Vinegar and 1tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup). To serve, add the cauliflower and hazelnuts to the salad and mix the dressing.