It's been too long since a food post. I've kept thinking about titles for this post (I have no idea why!) and also thinking of the movie "Babe". The day we took our kids to see "Babe" I gave them ham sandwiches for lunch so they wouldn't get sentimental about animal meat! They protest about KFC but we still eat chicken at home. Mind you, since we had a pet rabbit, they're less keen on that....
Every now and then (OK, every couple of weeks) I buy something unusual (like Ricotta cheese) because I keep reading great recipes about it, and then when I've got the ingredient I can't find the recipe!
I've been wanting to cook pork belly for a while. (OK, some of you can stop reading right here! In reverse, that's the equivalent of saying to me "cucumber with choko" or "junket and flummery"... ).
I love Asian cooking (and Moroccan, Mexican, Indian....) and pork bellies keep popping up (or out, so to speak). So I began by buying a belly (I can see a tongue-twister coming on) and then COULDN'T FIND A RECIPE! I endured numerous rude comments from the family (and not just about the PIG'S belly!!) So finally I started once again sorting the box of recipes that I keep cutting out. I found a million ricotta recipes!! None of them involved pigs of any disposition.
And two pork belly recipes. It's weird when you see the words "pork belly" and go "yes! finally!". (delete that comment)
This one comes from one of the weekend mags. Sooo dangerously tasty in the end. I now have a signature belly recipe. (so glad i put the word recipe there).
1. Buy a pork belly. (In case you're wondering it's NOT PIG TRIPE!!!!! Its the... err... outside bit, you know, the pigs paunch). An Asian butcher is more likely to have them. The pig, not the paunch.
2. I love this bit. Heat the oven to 180 celsius. Put the pork belly in a pan. Cover it with Coca-cola (2 litres or so). Add 2 star anise and 1 cinnamon stick and bake for 2-2.5 hours until tender. Drink the rest of the Coke. Or use it to clean your silver collection. (It was so hilarious to answer "Dad, can i have some coke?" with "No dear, it's going on the pig's tummy.")
I left the skin on the belly (it's sounding gross, isn't it?) but i should have taken it off. More on that later.
(This is nearly as funny - for me - as when I made our sourdough bread base - called a "mother" - and put it in the fridge. sourdough is smelly, and so was the fridge. so many one-liners!)
Now I NEVER read the whole recipe before I start. Never. Nor do I check the cupboard for ingredients. As far as I'm concerned a recipe is like a springboard.... a stepping off point.
Mind you, I WILL go the the shop to buy special ingredients and MUCH later when cooking implore my significant other to make a mercy dash for something that we don't have (I THOUGHT YOU BOUGHT THAT! THE KIDS ATE IT! IT WAS HERE YESTERDAY. ETC.)
So, at this point, the recipe said COVER WITH MARINADE AND CLING WRAP AND REFRIGERATE FOR 2-3 HOURS. And I haven't even started on the marinade....
At this point we decided we'd eat it the next day! (that might sound obvious, but 9 times out of 10 I just keep going at this point and we eat at 9.00 pm. I am learning about cooking boundaries.)
THE NEXT DAY
3. In a saucepan, combine 500g sugar and enough water to make a thick paste. The recipe says "cook over a medium heat until golden". I have NEVER had anything turn golden when it says that! Not onions! Nothing! Anyway, I think i added too much water. I was going toffee-ish, and then it just went dry. Sugar rock. so I added more water and dissolved it a bit again. the moral is: sweet and syrupy, whatever.
4. Remove from heat and add 500 ml malt vinegar, 4 dried red chillies (I used a teaspoon of chilli paste - trying to save the kids' palates - mine is long dead) and 2 cinnamon sticks. Cook until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of step 3 (WHICH WOULD BE FINE IF I GOT STEP 3 RIGHT!)
5. Add 200ml tomato sauce and 200ml HP sauce (ie. BBQ sauce, but I DID go and buy the real thing.) Reduce again to the consistency of step 3 (SEE STEP 4 COMMENT ABOVE! I'M STARTING TO FEEL LIKE THE GUY IN THE CAR INSURANCE AD AT THIS POINT. TREV.....)
6. Add 100ml dark rum (Bundy of course) and 100ml creamed horseradish.... I'm not a horseradish fan. i actually went out and found some. It's tricky to find in the supermarket. There's no "horse" section. I put in a couple of tablespoons and tasted it and stopped. You can forget the horseradish. Stir it in and remove from heat and allow to cool. The sauce tastes dangerously good. I want to bottle and sell it (and give the money to charity, just like Paul Newman)
7. Cover meat with marinade and leave for a few hours. You can easily do this if you prepare over 2 days! This is why you cut the skin off: skin doesnt marinade. Just save it for crackling. you know it's fat. a tasty death.
8. Fire up the Webber (charcoal oven). I had some hickory so I threw it on. About 20 minutes, maybe 30. Take it off and slice it.
Sprinkle with coriander leaves. As usual i had put potatoes and onions in the bottom of the Webber and the juices from the meat ran over it all (if that sounds gross, why are you still reading?)
We'd also put corn in husks in the BBQ and I'd fried up a big pile of mushrooms.
I have to say that it was pretty unbelievable. The sauce and charcoal are brilliant together. Very fatty meat, so I'm going to use the sauces of leaner pork loin, but i have to tell you, this recipe is worth working with.
sigh. this all sounds so decadent. I'd happily host a meal like these once a week. come on over. really.