There are literally hundreds of different variations for serving this dish though the basic principles remain the same – add some vegetables, slow cook and throw in some wine to tenderise the meat and add flavour. The recipe below was devised by Rebecca based pretty much on what we had in the fridge – fennel stalks rather than celery, sage rather than basil. I fyou happen to have a few spare turnips they could work alongside the carrots. Belly pork is normally cured and used as bacon, pancetta, lardons etc. but it can also be cooked into a delicious meal. It is very rich so a little goes a long way and is excellent if you find to you have to serve a hot meal for many mouths. The excess fat can be cut off and rendered into lard.
Pork Belly (aproxx. 200 gr per adult portion)
Juice of ½ a lemon
Head of garlic
Celery OR the stalks and leaves (not the bulb) of a fennel
3 large carrots
Rosemary, sage, thyme
1 bottle of white wine
Salt & pepper.
Take the pork out of the fridge arpoxx. 40 mins before cooking to allow the meat to relax. Remove the skin and some of the excess fat on the top of the meat. This piece of meat is marbled with plenty of fat so removing the excess fat from the top helps remove some of the richness. The removed fat can be rendered into lard. Score the remaining fat to allow the flavours of the marinade to penetrate as deep as possible.
Heat the oven up to it’s highest capacity.
In the meantime blend two cloves of garlic, the fennel leaves (if using fennel) and all the herbes (rosemary, thyme, sage), a sprinkling of salt & pepper and some olive oil in the blender until it turns into a paste. Massage the paste over the whole of the meat and leave to rest while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Slice the onions into quarters and place at the bottom of the braising pot. Add the remaining garlic with their skin on. Chop up the carrots and celery or fennel and add them to the pot. Place the pork, fat side up, in the pot. Squeeze the juice of ½ a lemon over the whole. Place the braising pot with the lid off in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and add the white wine making sure not to pour the wine over the meat. Turn the heat down to 100 degrees centigrade and leave to slow cook for three hours.
Half an hour before eating take it out of the oven to rest. Pour the juices into a blender and blend or mash the remaining vegetables into a rough sauce. Season to taste.
The meat will be so tender it will be almost impossible to slice and will end up looking like tender, shredded meat.
This a delicious, but very rich, meal so it is best served with a green salad and plain salt potatoes. A tangy natural fermented side-dish such as sourkraut or gherkins tastes wonderful and acts as a natural digestive alongside the rich food.