I can’t lay any claim to being a great chef but still enjoy trying new tastes, new textures, flavours, smells, ingredients.
I decided to use Tom Kerridge’s recipe for the piece of pork belly we’d again bought from Brian at Rectory Reserve, served with lentils and black cabbage salsa from his “Proper Pub Food“¹ which involves (a) black cabbage (obviously), also called Cavolo nero² which I’d not knowingly matched with pork before and (b) the technique of brining, which I had used (but more on this in a separate post to come soon).
I forgot to take a photo of the results, so you’ll have to make do with this one from the recipe. Apart from the wooden table back-drop (and the plate), mine was indistinguishable (did you doubt it?) from his
The great thing about his book is that even kitchen fools like me can follow it and produce (whilst not Tom Keller French Laundry-style quality, agreed) interesting takes on some standard ingredients.
So, did it work? Yes, hugely well.
The belly pork was rich, moist, succulent with great crisp crackling. The lentils, a crunchy delight, the salsa piquant & tart. It meshed together perfectly. If you’ve some good or even just cheap, belly pork, then you should rush out and grab the ingredients below (if not already stashed in the cupboards) and start this. The brining takes a minimum of 24hrs so it needs a little planning. That aside, it’s just a case of “follow the guide”.
- For the brine
- For the pork belly and lentils
- For the salsa
25g/1oz fresh mint, leaves picked
25g/1oz fresh parsley, leaves picked
50g/1¾oz cavolo nero
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
10g salted anchovies, roughly chopped
35g/1¼oz capers, drained, roughly chopped
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zest only
150ml/5fl oz olive oil
- Bring 1litre/1¾ pint of water and all of the brine ingredients to the boil. Make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Place the pork belly in a plastic container with a lid. Pour the brine over the pork to cover and seal the container with the lid. Transfer to the fridge for 24 hours.
- Remove the pork belly from the brine and pat dry.
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
- Place the pork belly onto a wire rack suspended over a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 2½-3 hours, or until crisp and golden-brown. Once cooked, allow the pork to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a little oil in a saucepan set over a medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, then remove the bacon and add the onion to the pan. Fry until soft and translucent.
- Return the bacon to the pan. Stir in the herbs de provence and the lentils and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to the boil. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are just soft.
- For the salsa, blanch the mint and parsley in a pan of boiling water for a minute. Remove from the pan, keeping the water boiling, and plunge into ice-cold water. Add the cabbage leaves to the boiling water and after two minutes place in the cold water with the herbs. When the leaves are cold, drain them thoroughly and squeeze to remove any excess water.
- Chop together the cabbage, mint leaves and parsley leaves. Add the grated garlic, chopped anchovies and capers. Put this mixture into a bowl with the chopped shallot, salt, cayenne pepper and lemon zest. Mix in the olive oil to make a rough salsa.
- To serve, slice the pork, spoon the lentils into a large serving bowl and serve with the salsa. ©BBC & Tom Kerridge
¹ An Amazon associate link — buy this book via the link here and Amazon send me money and make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice; I’ll soon be able to retire. Or maybe not.
² Some more interesting recipes for this vegetable are here at the BBC site.