Thursday, April 16, 2009

Braised pork belly

With a desperate yearning for the recently departed far east, this should satisfy any pork cravings of anyone insane enough to swap Hong Kong for Abu Dhabi...

Serves 4

Ask your butcher to remove the rind from the belly pork, but leave some of the fat as it keeps the meat moist during the long cooking time. This may look like a lot of meat but as the fat breaks down in the cooking process the belly shrinks dramatically. This works well if braised a day in advance and then pan-fried at the last minute. Serve with pommes purées flavoured with mustard.

1 x 2kg piece pork belly, rind removed and boned
Freshly ground pepper
Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tblsp olive oil
1 leek sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 star anises
2 bay leaves
50ml soy sauce
500ml chicken stock
125ml Madeira

Place the pork fat-side down on a chopping board, season well with pepper and sprinkle over the thyme and lemon zest. Roll up the pork like a Swiss roll and secure with string.
Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a metal casserole and sear the meat all over. Add the leek, celery, onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the star anises, bay leaves, soy sauce, stock and Madeira.

Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3 hours.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the meat from the casserole and place on a plate. Cover and chill in the fridge until required.

Strain the cooking juices through a sieve and discard the vegetables. Skim away all the fat from the stock. Place the stock in a medium-sized saucepan and boil until the stock has reduced by half and has a sauce-like consistency.

Remove the meat from the fridge. Cut away the string and cut into medallions 4cm thick.
Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Take a little of the sauce and spoon over the medallions, then cook for a few minutes to glaze the meat. Transfer to four warmed plates of pommes purées. Spoon the glaze over the meat and serve the remaining sauce in a jug.