To market, to market, to buy a fat pig! A Sunday lunch of aromatic roast pork

There’s nothing like a Sunday roast to bring the family together. And we all love roast pork. Brenty’s special roast pork is fantastic, and fills the house with mouth-watering cooking smells all night long, as it slow roasts its way to perfection.

I try to buy my meat from my local butcher, J Seal Butchers. I have used this friendly, Barnes-based family butcher for about 15 years now.  They know their meat and its provenance, and it is prepared beautifully just as you like it. They now deliver; if you are local try them out! Or you can try your local Farmers’ Market where you are likely to find pork products from traditional British breeds.

Belly pork is a fantastic choice. It is a succulent yet fatty cut, full of flavour, and an economical choice for feeding the family. Saturated fat has been demonised recently, however, fat is a vital addition to the diet, and despite media scare-mongering, there is little evidence that saturated fat contributes to heart disease. More importantly, a diet without fat means we cannot access fat-soluble vitamins such vitamins A, D, E and K.

Pork is also a fantastic source of high-quality protein and is highly satiating. It contains monounsaturated fat (which protective against heart disease) as well as saturated fat. It is also a good source of B-vitamins, iron, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

Don’t be put off by the preparation of the pork. Once you have pulverised the herbs and spices, and massaged them into the pork, you will have little to do (other than lowering the temperature in 20 mins time) until lunchtime on the Sunday. Once prepared, relax, pour yourself a drink, and enjoy your Saturday evening in the knowledge that your Sunday lunch is on its way and will be amazing!

Aromatic Roast Pork

To serve 4 or 5

Preheat the oven to 240ºC.

  • 4-5 rib piece of pork belly
  • 8 bay leaves, picked fresh and washed
  • heaped tbsp  fennel seeds
  • ten cloves of garlic
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • tbsp olive oil
  • tbsp rock salt
  • 10 black peppercorns

Preparation:

  1. Ensure your belly pork is scored along the bone line in one direction only, either by your butcher, or yourself. Use a blowtorch to dry out the crackling. It will  start to shrivel as the moisture evaporates. Set aside.
  2. In a mortar, crush a tablespoon of rock salt with ten de-ribbed bayleaves from the garden with your pestle. Pound until the leaves have disintegrated and the salt is green. Set aside.
  3. In a frying pan, dry-fry a tablespoon of fennel seeds until they just start to become fragrant.
  4. Bruise the fennel seeds in your mortar, and add ten garlic cloves, the zest of one lemon, a teaspoon of salt and ten black peppercorns. Smash until the garlic cloves are crushed into pulp.
  5. Add half tbsp olive oil and massage 3/4 into the non-skin side of the belly pork.
  6. Set aside and chill for 3 hours.
  7. If serving the following day, preheat the oven to 240ºC, rub half a lemon over the crackling and squeeze the remainder over the belly pork.
  8. Take the bay salt and work into the crackling, and over the rest of the pork. Do the same with the remaining marinade (in the cracks of the skin). Avoid garlic and oil on the crackling as this will burn and not achieve the desired superior crackling.

Cooking the beast:

  1. Cook in oven skin side up on rack at 240ºC  for 20 minutes.
  2. Turn heat down to 90ºC (leave door open to drop temperature as quickly as possible).
  3.  Turn pork over (skin side down) and leave for as long as you like.  We will generally put in at dinner time on Saturday for Sunday lunch.

Serve with some seasonal greens (we had our favourite again, Cavolo Nero). You can put some carrots into the pan under the pork, and roast along with it. When the skin is crackling to your liking, remove the pork and the rack and let your potatoes continue to cook until as crisp as desired.

Cavolo Nero

  1. Rinse and de-rib, leaving the leaves whole.
  2. Blanch in salted water for a minute.
  3. Allow to drain in colander.
  4. Put back into hot pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and serve instantly.

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