Fridays are such a mixed bag in this house. There's generally an air of relief that the working and school week is coming to an end and if we're lucky, there's at some point in the next few days we can stop and relax - not have to rush somewhere or have a gajillion things to remember to get ready.
But also on Friday, with two five year olds and an almost seven year old everyone's a bit over it and it's a struggle to get out the door to school. Everyone is tired and whingey. But once they are at school my mood picks up and I start to think about the weekend - and especially in the colder weather - what I can cook.
My friend Lorraine sent me this cookbook because she thought it was me, and looking through it, I can see why. It's full of family-type winter warmers. I took one look at the pork belly with sage, pancetta and apples recipe and knew I had to make it.
So it went on the mealplan and onto my shopping list for farmgate - and I picked up a lovely pork belly with crackling from my butcher for $19.
It reminds me a little of le pork roast - especially with the baked apples element but it does have it's own extremely tasty flavour and family friendly - everyone loved it. It's moist and even if you are not wanting to partake in the crackling (oh lovely crackling...drool) you can find some lovely lean pork the base of the pork belly too. We had loads of leftovers which hubby happily ate for lunches and on sambos for a few days.
So if you're out and about this weekend, grab yourself some pork belly and make this - you'll have some pork for sandwiches for the week too!
12 cloves garlic
3 brown onions, cut in half
2 tsp fennel seeds
10 sage leaves, roughly chopped
Enough pancetta to cover your pork belly
4 small red apples
Preheat oven to 200 degrees c
Place garlic in a oven proof dish (I used a ramekin) and sprinkle about 1 tsp oil over the top - roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove, cool for 10 minutes and remove the skins. Place the pulp in a mortar and pestle or a mini processor.
Mix with 1 tsp of fennel seeds, crush seeds and mix in with the garlic until it becomes paste-like.
Meanwhile, put your belly skin side up on a tray or cooling tray over a sink. Cut some slits in the top and boil a full jug of water in the kettle. When it boils, pour it over the pork belly rind - this softens it up. Drain about 5 minutes.
Rub in the garlic and fennel paste.
Cover with your pancetta.
On a cutting board or clean surface sprinkle the remaining fennel seeds, sage and lay out some cooking twine in a snake-like configuration - so the loop height is roughly about 5cm more than the height of your pork belly.
Place your pork belly pancetta side down on top of the twine and take up the ends and thread them through the loops, securing the pancetta onto the pork belly. Continue until it's all tied together then sprinkle left-over sage and fennel seeds on top.
Oil a baking tray and place the pork belly in there pancetta side up. Next add your onions in the pan.
Turn the oven down to 150 degrees c.
Add apples to the pan, give the pork a good baste and bake for another 2 1/4 hours, basting every 45 minutes.
Corrr! Look at THAT! Yum right? Remove the pork belly, apples and onions from the tray. Allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
That gives you enough time to make gravy with the pan. Put it on the hob and add some cornflour mixed in milk, watch over it and whisk it in.
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