Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mexican pork belly

I wish this was something that I'd come up with, but in fact this episode of Recipe Rifle comes to you from the letter E, the numbers 5 and 7 and James Ramsden, the food blogger and ACTUAL TRAINED COOK  who contacted me keen to do a recipe swapsie. I gave him a recipe for a baked potato and he didn't laugh!! I don't know what to make of that. Find him at www.jamesramsden.wordpress.com

Anyway, here is his extremely exciting-looking pork belly thing that I would make if only I knew how one skins a hazelnut.

Take it away Jim:

Mexican pork belly with coriander and hazelnut salsa

The problem with the cheap cuts - beef shin, lamb shoulder, pork belly - is that they are imbued with a sense of winter. These gastropub staples seem good only for slow-cooked and sticky stews, broodingly dark braises, and melting roasts. Give a cook any one of these cheap cuts and their reflex will be to start prepping a mirepoix, setting the oven to 170C and scratching around for the half-drunk bottle of last night's plonk.

It's unsurprising that this is the case. These cuts are fatty, and in winter we want - we need - fat. By summer we've had just about enough of rich food and root veg and we yearn for grub that pings and hums with herbs and citrus and chilli. But this shouldn't mean these cuts are redundant all of a sudden. Lamb shoulder, diced and marinated with yoghurt, cumin, chilli, mint, garlic and lemon makes perfect kebabs for barbecuing. Ox cheek, braised sympathetically in bourbon and shredded with herbs and spices becomes a breast-beatingly epic filling for enchiladas.

This pork belly is a crowd pleaser in the way that watching Jordan get mauled by a panda would be a crowd pleaser. Aside from the skinning and boning of the belly (which you could ask the butcher to do) it requires little effort on your part. I did it for 20 people which a whole belly (6-7kg) will serve easily. If going the whole hog then up the cooking time to 3 hours.

Serves 4

1.5 kg piece of pork belly, skin and ribs removed
A bunch of coriander, finely chopped
Zest of half a lime
Zest of half a lemon
Olive oil and pepper

For the salsa

A bunch of coriander
Juice of a lime
A red chilli
1 clove garlic
A small handful of skinned hazelnuts
Olive oil, salt, pepper

Mix together the coriander, lime and lemon zests and olive oil. Rub over the pork belly, season with pepper, and leave overnight.

To make the salsa/pesto, blend the coriander, lime juice, chilli and hazelnuts until smooth, pouring in olive oil as you go until you've got the right consistency. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove the pork from the fridge a good hour before cooking and preheat the oven to 180C. Season generously with sea salt and roast the pork for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and rest for 20 minutes. Alternatively roast for 1 1/2 hours before finishing on the barbecue for 30 minutes. Serve with the salsa and a salad.

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