Article from FOCUS Magazine – Winter 14 issue.
Good food made from the plentiful, the seasonal and the leftover by award winning food writer Diana Henry
Thyme-roasted belly of pork with baked apples
1.8kg (4lb) thick end of pork belly, rind scored (ask your butcher for the last 6 ribs)
leaves from 1 small bunch of thyme
fine flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 smallish eating apples, preferably with tawny or russet skin
200ml (7fl oz) dry cider, white wine or apple juice
50g (13⁄4oz) soft light brown sugar
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Lay the joint, skin side up, in a roasting tin. Rub the thyme leaves and salt and pepper into the skin. Be generous with the salt as this gives crisp crackling. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Run a knife horizontally round the middle of each apple and put in a baking dish. Heat the cider and sugar gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring just to the boil, add the lemon juice and pour over the apples. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/ gas mark 4. Put the apples in the oven and roast them alongside the pork for a further hour (but do check before then: they should be tender yet not collapsing).
- Test the pork: the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced. If the crackling isn’t crispy enough, increase the oven temperature to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and check again after 5 minutes. Serve each person some meat and crackling, a baked apple and its juices.
Spiced pork belly with fennel, chilli and lentils
- Crush together 11⁄2 tbsp fennel seeds, 11⁄2 tsp dried chilli flakes, 3⁄4 tbsp thyme leaves and 3⁄4 tbsp flaked sea salt.
- Mix in 3 tbsp olive oil and rub over 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork belly (rind scored).
- Refrigerate, covered, for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
- Roast the pork, skin side up, for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 170°C/340°F/gas mark 31⁄2 and pour in 300ml (1⁄2 pint) white wine or cider.
- Cook for 11⁄2 hours, pouring in another 300ml (1⁄2 pint) liquid (wine, cider or water) after 1 hour.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and gently sauté 1 small onion, chopped, 1 carrot, diced, and 1 celery stick, diced, for 10 minutes.
- Add 300g (101⁄2oz) green lentils, 450ml (16fl oz) chicken stock or water and 1 bay leaf and bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, season and cook, covered, for 25 minutes.
- Take the pork from the oven and insulate to rest.
- Skim the fat from the juices.
- Stir 3 tsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp chopped parsley into the lentils. Serve the pork with the lentils and cooking juices.
Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Published by Mitchell Beazley, £25.00
Cookery photographs by Jonathan Lovekin, www.octopusbooks.co.uk