pork belly – soft and deliciously crispy

i will be lying if i said that this is an old recipe of mine and a dish that i regularly cook as this was my first taste of pork belly in a little over a decade…or two.
admitting that i have missed out on very delicious food for a very long time. i have so many new dishes to look forward to!!
a relatively cheap cut of meat, pork belly is best cooked low and slow. i love the meat juicy and tender with the perfect crackling dressing the meat like a protective hat.
use a good, drinkable wine for this dish.
serve the pork belly with creamy mash, buttery vegetables, roasted sweet potato or asian slaw.
leftovers are great in pasta or with baked potato or wrapped in asian rice paper with coriander and a spicy sauce.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
2kg pork belly
4tbs olive oil (not extra virgin)
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 garlic bulb, cut in half, skin on
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 leeks, roughly chopped
few sprigs fresh thyme
500ml good white wine
2c chicken stock
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
2tsp coarse salt
black pepper
chives or spring onion (optional)

how to do it
preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. place all of the vegetables into a large roasting tray with the thyme. set aside.
in a pestle & mortar, grind the salt, pepper, fennel & coriander seeds together until fragrant but not fine. using a sharp knife, score the skin of the belly in diamond shapes, taking care not to cut into the meat.
drizzle the olive oil over the belly and lightly rub it into the skin. now rub the salt & spices mixture into the skin and incisions. place the pork belly on top of the vegetables. place the roasting tray into the hot oven and roast for 20 minutes.
carefully remove the tray from the oven and turn the heat down to 170 degrees C. pour the white wine and chicken stock into the tray taking care not to wet the skin. the liquid should come up to the skin so that the meat is submerged but the skin untouched. if you need a little more liquid, add a little more water.
any leftover juices can be kept aside to use when making the gravy.
carefully place the tray back into the oven taking care not to wet the skin of the belly and roast for 2 hours.
after two hours, turn the heat back up to 230 degrees C and roast the belly until the skin is bubbling, browned and hard to the touch. about 20 – 30 minutes.
carefully lift the belly out of the roasting tray onto a cutting board and leave to rest while you get on with the gravy.
pour the vegetables and juices into a blender and blend until smooth. (or use a handheld blender.)
strain into a saucepan and bring to a boil. turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. check seasoning.
if desired, add more water for a thinner sauce or add a teaspoon of cornstarch and water to thicken although i doubt either will be necessary.
turn the pork belly onto its skin and cut as desired. (this makes it easier to cut through the crackling skin)
garnish with chopped chives or spring onion.

serve with the jus and your choice of starch, veggies or salad.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

lamb vinaigrette

i love cooking lamb and i obviously love eating it. whenever we decide to cook lamb on the ‘braai’ (bbq) like we did this weekend, i lose the base of the sauce i love making so much. purely because it is lost next to the fire, whilst slowly cooking for about 3 hours.
the effort of starting a sauce from scratch is not always on my agenda on a sunny, relaxing day whilst sipping on champagne. and, on these beautiful summer days spent at the coast i simply cannot imagine a more perfect sauce to accompany a beautiful piece of deboned leg of lamb.
finding the beauty in the simpler things in life is so rewarding and the same goes for food. keeping it simple yet flavourful have always been my preferred method of cooking… good food kept simple!
gremolata is a great side to any lamb dish and so easy to make. three ingredients that burst with flavour and compliments lamb like the perfect match made in heaven.
this vinaigrette is quite similar to gremolata but with a few extra ingredients including olive oil.

juice of 2 medium lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2tbs white wine vinegar
1/2c olive oil
1tbs rosemary, finely chopped
2tbs red onion, finely chopped
2tbs parsley, finely chopped
1tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
1tsp lime juice
1/2tsp fine salt
grind of black pepper

how to do it
mix all the ingredients except the salt & pepper together in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. shake until emulsified.
or whisk the ingredients together in a deep bowl until emulsified. set aside for about ten minutes.
season with salt & pepper. mix well. taste and add more salt if needed.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

parmentier potato side dish

this is a great side to almost any meaty dish and fish. a different take on the normal roast potatoes and so tasty.
you can mix all the ingredients together in a bowl but i prefer shaking it all up in a ziploc or freezer bag…less to clean up.
for a little bit of extra amazing, top the potatoes with grated parmesan.
soft middle, crispy crust, fresh herbs and garlic and parmesan…this really is my idea of a potato orgasm.

6 potatoes, peeled and cut into blocks
1/3c olive oil (not extra virgin)
6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
4 rosemary sprigs, leaves only, chopped
2tsp garlic powder
1/2tsp black pepper
1/2tsp salt
chives for garnish
parsley for garnish

preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. warm a roasting tray in the oven.
place the potatoes and other ingredients into a ziploc bag or bowl and mix well to coat.
tip the potatoes out into the warmed roasting tray and roast until the potatoes are cooked and crispy, tossing half way. (about 45 minutes to an hour)

garnish with chopped chives or parsley or both.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

prawn mac & cheese

i think there is big debate in the food industry about changing or personalising old favourites and traditional recipes. i, however, find this completely acceptable. i mean, how else do we find inspiration and new ideas?
macaroni & cheese is something i grew up with. wether my mother made a simple version of really only macaroni and a cheese sauce straight from the pan into our plates or a baked version with strips of fatty bacon nestled between the macaroni and very cheesy cheese sauce, it was a common dish in our home. it comes as no surprise that i, too, have my own versions of this very traditional, tasty dish.
this version is a rich, saucy, meaty, cheesy heaven. you can bake it in the oven to grill the cheese it was topped with or dish it straight from the pan simply topped with some parmesan shavings. either way, it is delicious!!

300g rigatoni pasta, cooked according to packet instructions
70g butter
30g flour
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or grated
1/2 small onion, finely chopped or grated
2tsp paprika (not smoked)
2 pinches saffron threads
100g cheddar, grated
100g ricotta
50g parmesan, grated
350ml milk
100ml cream
1/2c fish stock
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2tsp dijon mustard
1tbs worcestershire sauce
1tbs tomato puree
bunch fresh chives, chopped
bunch fresh dill, chopped
basil, leaves only
1tbs brown sugar
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp black pepper
pinch chilli flakes
500g prawns (cleaned, uncooked & shelled)

how to do it
cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. drain and lightly oil. set aside.
bring the milk, cream & saffron to a light simmer. add the prawns and poach for about 5 minutes. remove prawns and set aside to cool. reserve the milk for the sauce.
melt the butter in a deep, oven proof skillet. add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent taking care not to burn the garlic. stir in the paprika, tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for two minutes while stirring.
stir in the fish stock and mix until thick and smooth.
slowly pour in the milk & cream mixture while stirring or lightly whisking. simmer, while stirring, until thick and creamy. stir through the worcesterchire sauce, mustard, lemon zest, cheeses & a pinch of chilli flakes.
taste now and season.
roughly chop the cooled prawns and add it to the sauce together with the pasta.
stir through the dill and chives.
top with desired amount of grated cheese. (i used about 80g)
bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes until bubbly.
garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

serve with a green salad.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x