Unless you’ve been underground with no access to television, newspapers or the internet for the past few weeks you don’t need me to tell you that the UK has been experiencing something of an ice age with snow and ice causing widespread disruption, some misery, but also, let’s be honest, lots of fun!
I absolutely love the snow but when you have to travel anywhere, as most of us do, whether it be to work, to do the school run, to stock up on food, it can make the journey quite horrendous (particularly if you have to rely on public transport, I might add). Even so, whilst I’ve not enjoyed that aspect of it, I’ve still loved seeing the thick flurries of snow falling as the snow piles up deeply outside, the beauty of the winter wonderland we now find ourselves in, and snugging up warmly and cosy indoors on the freezing cold evenings. I’ve been surviving on hearty soup, roast dinners and hot chocolate with rum. It’s been tough.
On cold, snowy days you want proper, hearty food to warm you up and keep you insulated, and what better than slow roasted belly of pork? It certainly did the trick for me last night, along with some delicious Puy lentils.
Slow Roasted Belly of Pork with Puy Lentils
Belly of pork is, as you would expect, cut from the underside of the pig and is used to make streaky bacon and the Italian pancetta. It’s also the cut that spare ribs come from. It is a fatty cut but when you roast it slowly over a few hours most of the fat renders away leaving you with wonderfully succulent and flavoursome meat.
For the Pork
A large slab of belly of pork, approximately 1.5kg, skin scored
300ml chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, halved and sliced
A sprig of thyme
For the Puy Lentils
1 garlic clove, crushed
200g Puy lentils
500ml chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 230c.
Pat the skin of the pork dry and then rub it generously with sea salt. Put it into a roasting tray and into the oven for ½ hour. After this time add the Marsarla, chicken stock, garlic, onion and thyme to the tray and turn the oven down to 150c. Cook the pork for a further 2½ hours. You shouldn’t need to top up the stock during the cooking time but check it once or twice and if it does run low top it up with a little more stock or water.
If the cracking isn’t as crispy as you would like at the end of the cooking time carefully cut it away from the pork, turn the heat back up to 230°C and put the crackling back into the oven to crisp it up.
Start making the lentils about 20 minutes before the end of the pork cooking time. Drizzle a little olive oil into a pan and heat it over a low medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté it for a minute then add the lentils and chicken stock, along with a little of the liquid from the roasting tray the pork is in. Bring the stock up to the boil and simmer the lentils for approximately 20 minutes, until they are al denté – still with a bite in the middle – and then drain them of any excess liquid.
Serve slices of the pork on a bed of the lentils.
Note: the lentils with the pork are very filling so you don’t really need a large amount, but if you prefer more simply double the recipe.
There, that will warm your cockles. And when you’re full up and warm through and you’ve rested for a bit, you can go back outside and play in the snow!