52 Cookbooks 46 & 47: Roast pork belly with broccoli, red onions & capers

Yes this week I'm cooking two recipes. They're both from Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch, which is a book based on recipes from his series of the F word. Which thinking back seems a while back, as it's probably been a while since we've seen Gordon on the TV for a cookery series (I'm not counting the multiple re-runs of those kitchen nightmares where he usually just shouts at people). I have used this book on and off and I like the way that it's set out in menus, so if you're stuck or pushed for time then it makes it easy to quickly choose something that goes together!

There's two this week as I attempt to catch up for the week I missed back in September; and while they both come from the same cookbook, I haven't cooked either of them before so I think I'll allow myself to bend the rules! 


So starting with the pork belly which is roasted twice. The first time it's cooked long and slow to tenderise the meat and the second time it's given a blast of heat to produce lots of lovely crackling. Yum!  Setting the oven to 170 degrees I started to prep the meat, my butcher had already scored the crackling for me which saved me a job so I rubbed salt, pepper and thyme into both sides of the meat.

Then it went into the roasting dish on top of more thyme and two bulbs of garlic cut in half. Sprinkled with more salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a glass of white wine for the tin and covered with foil I put it into the oven for an hour and a half. 


The smells were already amazing (and were to get better) and after the first 90 minutes I took it out of the oven to baste before returning it to the oven for another hour, this time uncovered.  I did cook my joint for longer as it was slightly larger than the size in the recipe, Gordon says it should be fork-tender after the first roasting, and it was. Some of it may have just slipped onto the fork I used to test this too... Well I'd had three hours of lovely roasting pork smells, so what was a girl to do?

The next step in the recipe was where I deviated, so no surprises there. Gordon says to put the meat into a clean roasting tin to cool, adding another tin on top, weighed down with a tin to flatten the pork. Now here's the thing Gordon suggests leaving the pork to cool for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge to set the shape. To be honest I thought it was all a bit cheffy, and despite starting to cook our evening meal at 3pm didn't have enough time for this. I'm sure it'd look great and maybe I'd do this if I was really trying to impress someone, but erm... not this time round! 


I rested the pork until we were ready to eat, as the second roasting time was much shorter.  I made a gravy with the pan juices, although there were fewer of these than I expected and the garlic was gloriously squidgy and sweet. 

The oven was now set at 240 degrees and my joint went back in the oven. I hadn't pressed it, nor had I cut it into squares (I told you it was cheffy) but I did add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt before putting it in for a blast for twenty minutes or so.  

For the broccoli, which is blanched then stir-fried I cut that into florets and diced a red onion.  I started by softening the red onion in some olive oil until it was soft and added some salt and pepper and deglazed the pan with some red wine vinegar, which really enhances the colour of the onion. Then add the blanched broccoli and some capers to the pan with a drizzle more olive oil and serve. Gordon suggests adding a scattering of flaked almonds, which I think would work well. I got mine out of the cupboards but in the rush to dish up and actually eat this I forgot to add them. Oh well, next time!


The verdict

-  Despite its cheffy tendencies, I'd follow the recipe again (well as much as I followed it this time round), I think substituting fennel seeds for the time would also work

- I'm not sure I'd ever really do the cheffy bits, but who knows? 

- There were less meat juices than I expected but maybe I added more wine, who knows. I added more wine and a splash of water and my gravy was good (despite not managing to photograph it) 

- I loved the broccoli done this way, so will definitely be cooking it like this again. And I was amazed at how red the red wine vinegar made the red onions. Maybe next time I'll remember those flaked almonds too! 

- Oh and the crackling. It was good. Very good. I have a rule that crackling can only be eaten at the first serving. Mainly because it tastes best then and partly to help my waistline!  We could have eaten all of this crackling between us, but showed some (but not much) restraint! 


What have you cooked this week?