On Sunday evening Alberto and I had our friend David over for the first time this year and so I decided to do the first roast of the year. This recipe is from my new Christmas present cookbook. The pork belly is stuffed with quinoa (annoyingly pronounced “Keen-Wah!”), apples, shallots, lemon zest and juice and watercress and other stuff. It’s a bit fiddly to stuff the pork and tie it up, (especially if you’ve only got two hands, no-one to help you tie the knots in the string and you’re trying to talk to your mother on the phone! There was some swearing!) but it’s well worth the effort.
On the subject of effort I had to go to 4 different supermarkets to find some pork belly! The only bit in Sainsbury’s was too small, Co-op had none, nor did Aldi. Morrisons eventually sorted me out!
I did the usual accompaniments of roast potatoes, steamed kale and tenderstem broccoli and honey glazed parsnips. Tasty.
A good-sized piece of pork belly (I was only cooking for 3 so the one I got was slightly under 1kg)
Freshly ground sea salt
100g of quinoa
340ml of water
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
35g of butter
4 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150g watercress, chopped
2 eating apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
Zest of 1 lemon
A squeeze of lemon juice
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Pop the quinoa in a pan with the water and bring to the boil, then simmer, for 20 minutes or so, until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
Drain, refresh under cold running water and set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, gently fry the shallots until soft. Then add the garlic and chopped watercress and fry for a further minute or so.
Tip into a bowl with the cooled quinoa and mix well.
Heat some more oil in the pan and fry the apple pieces until they begin to soften and colour.
Add the apple pieces to the quinoa/shallot mix, along with the lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 230.
Lay out the pork, skin side up, and pat dry with some kitchen towel.
Score the surface of the pork with a very sharp knife and then rub the skin with salt. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.
Wipe the salt off the skin.
Lay out 4-8 long pieces of string on a chopping board and then turn the piece of belly pork over and lay it on top of the pieces of string, skin side down. Make sure that the string in running in the same direction as the scored lines.
Spoon the stuffing down the middle of the pork belly, then bring the sides up until they meet.
Tie tightly into shape with the string.
Weigh the stuffed joint to calculate the cooking time. About 25 minutes per 450g, plus another 20 minutes on top.
Turn the pork over so that the seam is underneath and rub sea salt all over the skin.
Pop the pork in a roasting tin and place it on the top shelf of the oven. Roast on 230 for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180 for the rest of the cooking time. (I turned the oven back up to 200 when I wanted to put the roast potatoes in and just moved the pork lower down in the oven.)
When the pork is cooked remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for 10 minutes before carving into thick slices. (It’s easier to get through the (hopefully crackled) crackling if you cut along the lines left by the string.
Delicious! Despite the fiddliness of the procedure of tying up the stuffed pork this is definitely worth it and is one I’ll certainly be cooking again. The boys enjoyed it too!