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Monday, 18 August 2014

Tasty pork belly from basic ingredients

We were out food shopping the other day whilst on holiday and my husband happened to be stood near to the meat counter when the butcher mentioned that he was about to reduce a few bits by 75%. Always keen to grab a bargain, he asked him what he had on offer and a few minutes later he returned to the trolley with some sausages, 2 beef burgers, 2 slices of black pudding, a tiny lamb shoulder joint and 4 pork belly slices.

The lamb we ate that evening, roasted with some potatoes. The next day the sausages, the black pudding and some bacon and eggs made a rather satisfying “all day breakfast” type of dinner with some potato scones, baked beans, mushrooms and tomatoes.

The following day I was faced with cooking the 4 pork belly slices. It may have been a bargain but it was not something I would normally chose to cook whilst on holiday, and wrapped only in the white plastic of the meat counter, it did not come with cooking instructions. I figured that they would probably taste best if treated like barbecue ribs but without the bones. This would require some slow cooking initially and then some crisping up flavoursome final cooking. Straightforward enough but we were, of course, on holiday with limited equipment and few food cupboard essentials.

Having preheated the oven to 160°C, I went about creating some sort of stock to slow cook the belly pieces in. Hot water from the kettle was a given, but what else? We’d previously made some gravy with some Onion Bisto so I scattered a couple of teaspoons of Bisto into the bottom of a Pyrex dish. To this I added a chopped up bit of celery (which had previously been pushed too far to the back of the fridge and had been frozen), a couple of chopped up slithers of red pepper, a dash or two of soy sauce and some black pepper. To this I added the 4 pieces of meat, put on the lid and popped it in the oven for a couple of hours whilst I went off and had a bath.

After two hours, it was time to remove them from the stock and to smear them with some sort of tasty glaze that would give them a lovely savoury flavour. Again, time for a little head scratching before deciding to mix together two teaspoons each of soy sauce, mustard and tomato ketchup. This I smeared onto the pork before placing them on a baking tray and returning them to the oven at 200°C for about 20 to 25 minutes.

As it turned out, they were amazingly delicious; a lovely, melt in the mouth texture from the slow cooking, coupled with a tasty crispiness from the hot blast in the glaze. Definitely one to chalk up as a success and Steve was so impressed he said I should make them again when we get home. Well, maybe I will, but he needs to go out and lurk at the meat counter for another bargain first!

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