Monday, October 16, 2006

Slow-roasted pork belly with fennel

Pork belly... for years the forgotten part of the pig, it is now making regular appearances on menus; along with lamb shanks and shin of beef, it is beginning to upstage the old faithfuls of sundried tomato and rocket. Or at least it is right up there with them. And rightly so, because slow-cooked pork belly is delicious: the crunchy crackling and the meltingly tender meat are a winning combination.

Jamie's recipe for the pork is fairly standard: rub it in fennel salt and roast it briefly in a hot oven to set the crackling off, then turn the oven right down and cook it slowly to tenderise the meat. But Jamie's recipe takes the fennel theme further: the pork is cooked on top of fennel bulbs tossed in thyme, olive oil and garlic. After an hour, add a bottle of white wine to the tray. The wine and the garlic, thyme and fennel make for a delicious sauce, which flavours the meat as it cooks. The meat emerges beautifully tender, the crackling sublime and the 'gravy' a winey, garlicky jus.

Apparently fennel is an acquired taste - in which case more people should try to acquire it. I love it, and it works fabulously with pork (Jamie has a recipe in Happy Days for a fennel and salami pasta dish which is also delectable).

As an aside, I'm making muesli tonight. Not a Jamie recipe. I've tried a few variations - from Nigella; from Tessa Kiros; from Bill Granger, the God of Breakfast and Brunch. This one is another variant from Bill - with dessicated coconut, oats, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, apple juice, and a bit of vegetable oil, plus dried blueberries. Some muesli recipes contain so much sugar that you might as well just have a doughnut for breakfast. Some might argue that life is too short to toast your own muesli and perhaps they would have a point, except that to make your own muesli you simply toss all of the ingredients bar the dried fruit together thoroughly, spread onto a baking tray, bake for half an hour, and decant into a jar, where you toss in the dried fruit to mix. How easy is that? and yet it is another way of making the kitchen smell wonderful, and making yourself feel like a domestic goddess, with minimal exertion and to maximum effect.


Lisa said...

Yum! I love pork & I love fennel. It really looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

We have cooked this a few times now and its one of our favourites. The meat is so tender, and the flavours you get are sublime. We are cooking this for friends at the weekend, so fingers crossed they will like it.

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