For our second course I prepared a tried and tested dish that didn't require too much attention from me as well. Pork belly was the obvious choice when I was doing my last minute shopping on Christmas eve as everything else was either sold out or way out of my budget. The pork belly turned out extremely moist and tender after 2 hours of slow cooking in the oven and I was relatively pleased with the resulting golden crackling. Everyone was satisfied and happy after the dishes were cleared but wait we still have our third course coming! Please come back tomorrow to check out our third course and my very first pudding for the blog.
P.S We are moving to Carlton North after more than 10 years in Fitzroy. I am extremely excited about the move; a new suburb (only a block away :)), a bigger garden, a much larger living area and a brand new kitchen. Excitements aside; packing will be my new best friend for the next 2 weeks but I will continue to have regular posting and will visit all my favourite blogs whenever I need a break from my new friend. I hope you are enjoying the holidays as much as I have been so far.
oven pre-heated at 200C
1.2 kg of pork belly (ask for female pig)
freshly ground black pepper
light olive oil
1 tbs of fennel seeds, dry roasted and set aside
2 onions, cut into half
1 bunch of spinach, washed and trimmed
for the braised lentil;
250 g of puy lentil, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
2 carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic clove, chopped
2 to 3 bay leaves
1/2 cup of white wine
2 cups of chicken stock
sea salt and pepper to taste
a small knob of butter
Wash and dry the pork thoroughly with kitchen towel. Score the rind with a very sharp knife (or get your butcher to do that) at 1cm intervals but do not cut all the way to the flesh. Lightly oil the pork rind and rub with sea salt. Season the meat side with sea salt, pepper and fennel seeds.
Place onion halves in a roasting pan and place the pork belly on top, this will stop the pork from burning and drying out during the long cooking process. The onions will caramelized and also absorb all the juices and fat rendering out from the pork belly. These can be served with the meat later. Place the roasting pan into the hot oven at 200C for 20 minutes before turning the oven down to 160C and continue to roast for another hour and 40 minutes. If the crackling is browning too quickly, loosely wrap a foil to cover the pork.
While the pork belly is roasting - saute chopped vegetables with a little olive oil until soften then add in the soaked lentil, stock, wine and bay leaves. Mix well and simmer gently for 20 to 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
When the lentils are ready throw in the butter and combine well. Do a final seasoning with salt and pepper.
After 2 hours - remove pork belly from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 25 to 30 minutes before carving. While the pork is resting saute spinach with a little olive oil and season well.
Serve pork belly on a bed of braised lentils with the sauteed spinach and caramelized onion. We served this with a beautiful rosé that one of the tummy had brought over.