Hello and welcome to all about food. This week is about making the most of cheaper cuts of meat. Your local butcher will be delighted to take the time to talk you through different cuts and how to cook them. To get you started; pork belly…
I have some ‘foodie friends’ that I would like to invite for dinner, I am however a little nervous as I have no idea what to cook for them and I feel a little out of my depth! Are there any dishes you could recommend?
I am forever telling people that dishes often look more complicated than they actually are and that the secret is to choose recipes that taste and look amazing but require little effort. Trust me, this is what many chefs do! Your butcher offers many excellent (and cheap) cuts of meat perfect for slow cooking; shoulder, hock, shank and thigh offer great flavour (and are very much in vogue these days). By doing much of the preparation early in the day, you are free to relax and enjoy yourself, I promise! Pork belly is a great cut of meat; it offers excellent flavour and, combined with a simple broth and some crusty bread you can be sure any guests will be blown away!
Slow roast pork belly with borlotti bean & cabbage broth
1.5kg piece of pork belly, boned, rind removed and scored (ask your butcher to do this)
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
For the broth
225g of diced pancetta or streaky bacon
½ red onion finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 400g tin of borlotti beans drained and rinsed
500ml of chicken stock
1 fresh green chilli deseeded and finely chopped
½ head of Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
handful fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220ºc. Lay the pork, skin-side up, on a rack in a roasting tin, rub a little oil over the skin then lightly press on the cumin seeds, garlic and salt. Roast for twenty minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170ºc and continue to roast for a further two and a half hours.
Meanwhile, sauté the pancetta in a dry pan, once the pancetta is crisp, add the onion, garlic & carrot and cook for a further two minutes. Add the borlotti beans, chicken stock and chilli, bring to the boil then simmer for five minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for another three minutes or until the cabbage softens. Just before serving, add the fresh parsley to the broth. Spoon the broth onto four large bowls and place the sliced pork belly on top - serve with mashed potato or crusty bread.
Caught for time? If you fancy this as a mid-week supper you can use pork chops instead of pork belly. I like to use pork chops on the bone for extra flavour. Simply sprinkle the chops with a little garlic, salt and cumin and place under a hot grill until the chops are cooked through. Alternatively, roast in the oven at 200ºc for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Letters to 'gingergirl' c/o Limerick Leader, 54 O'Connell Street, Limerick. You can follow gingergirl on Twitter under @gingergirlfood or on Facebook under gingergirl