Tag Archives: cider

Slow-Roast Pork Belly with Cider Gravy

Merry Christmas! We hope you’ve had a wonderful few days wherever you’ve spent it, we’ve been having a brilliant time stuffing our faces, playing board games, heading out for the odd walk and generally catching up with some lovely people. When you’re ready to face another indulgent meal we think this could be the perfect candidate, crispy slow-roasted pork belly served with celeriac mash, wilted kale, green beans and a rich cider gravy… delicious!

Remember when we made this pork adobo? We cut our piece of pork belly in half and chucked half in the freezer with a vague intention to roast it, and that’s exactly what we did! We served this on Bristmas (Bristol-Christmas) Eve – because we are visiting Fats’ family over Christmas we had our own special day to open presents that we couldn’t bring with us, including some brilliant wine from Bird’s parents – check it out on our Instagram. We’d never roasted pork belly before but after reading a few recipes online the general consensus was to stick it on a rack or some vegetables, put it in as hot as your oven will go and then turn down and slowly roast for hours until it practically falls apart but is topped with the most incredible crackling. To counteract the richness we served ours with some celeriac mash which is much lighter than using all potatoes, and some dark green vegetables, but we couldn’t resist making a gravy, it would have been a crime to waste everything left in the roasting dish!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • A piece of pork belly, around 350g
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Roughly chopped vegetables, we used carrots, onion and a parsnip but celery would be good too – use anything you have lying around
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 300ml dry cider
  • 1 small/medium baking potato, peeled and roughly cubed
  • 300-400g celeriac, peeled and roughly cubed
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded kale, around 100-150g
  • Green beans, around 100g
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Boiling water – as much as you like to make the right consistency gravy

To start with you need to score the pork belly, to do this you need a really sharp knife so either make sure yours are sharp, use a craft knife (like a Stanley knife) or ask your butcher to do it. You can score either horizontally/vertically or cross-hatch like we did. Make sure you cut through the skin into the fatty part, but not too deep so you don’t cut into the meat. Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go (around 250°C). Pop the fennel seeds and sea salt into a pestle and mortar and crush together for a few seconds to break up the fennel seeds. Tip this onto the skin of the pork and rub in, making sure it gets into all of the score lines. Put the roughly chopped vegetables into a roasting dish, drizzle over the olive oil and place the pork on top, then pop in the oven when it’s come to temperature.

Pork Belly Before

After 10 minutes turn the oven right down to about 160-170°C. Our piece took around 2 hours from this point, you want the meat to be falling apart, so if you’re cooking for more people then add on some more time. The beauty of this is that it’s hard to overcook, it will stay beautifully moist as long as you don’t forget about it all day! Halfway through the cooking time (so after 1 hour for our piece) pour 200ml of the cider into the roasting dish. The vegetables should have started to caramelise so the cider will bubble around all of those bits and get all of the best flavour for your gravy! Don’t worry if you’re cooking this dish for children, all of the alcohol will burn off and just leave that gorgeous apple flavour.

Pork Belly Roasted

When your pork has about half an hour left you need to start cooking the celeriac and potato to make your mash, cube them, add to a large pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook until soft. Once they are cooked drain them well and then it’s time to take the pork out of the oven! This is where things will get a little bit hectic – you need to make your mash and keep it warm, keep the pork warm, cook your green vegetables and make some gravy… but if we can handle a busy 10 minutes over the stove then so can you! Take the pork out of the oven, take a few seconds to marvel at its crispy beauty and then lift it off the bed of vegetables into a warm plate or a wooden board and cover loosely with foil. Make the gravy first, that way it can bubble away while you get on with everything else. Sprinkle the plain flour over the vegetables, and then using a fork squash the vegetables down with the flour which will soak up all of the lovely flavour. If your roasting dish is ok to use on the hob then you can make it all in the dish but ours wasn’t so we then tipped all of the squashed-vegetable mix into a pan. Place over a low heat and once it’s nice and toasty pour in the remaining 100ml of cider, let this reduce almost completely and then stir in enough boiling water to get it to a slightly thinner consistency than you would like. Turn the heat right down and let this bubble away happily.

Pork Belly Gravy

We cooked our kale by wilting it in a wok with a little water, butter, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg and some green beans simply boiled, drained and then coated in a tiny bit of butter. Mash up your celeriac and potato making sure to go easy on the milk and butter as celeriac is more watery than potato so you’ll end up with soup if you’re not careful! If it does end up wetter than you would like you can easily remedy it by placing the pan over a very low heat and mashing/stirring continuously until it’s dried out slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

One hard-working hob!
One hard-working hob!

Plate up time! We warmed our plates in the oven for a minute while we finished off the gravy by straining it into a jug giving the vegetables an extra squash with a spoon in the sieve to get every bit of goodness out! Then just whack it all on a plate, you won’t have the agonising wait like we did while we took photos… tuck straight in! If you’ve got any cider left (we may or may not have bought a box) it’s lovely served with it. Ours may look like a fairly meagre portion but it’s so rich that you don’t need much, try this out for an alternative roast to impress your friends and family with!

Pork Belly Done

On Holiday at Home

This weekend we had Fats’ brother and his girlfriend staying with us so had loads of plans for a packed weekend. Unfortunately Bird then got ill, and then gave it to Fats so we were feeling a bit under the weather! So this is what we did on our pared down bank holiday weekend:

Friday
We mainly spent the afternoon catching up because we hadn’t seen them since we went to Marrakech in March, and they live in Edinburgh so not exactly handy for a cuppa, and before we knew it it was time to make some pizza! If you’re wanting to share some homemade pizza with friends you can find our recipe here. After a bottle of wine and a few beers we decided to call it a night so we were full of energy for Saturday.

Saturday
After an amazing breakfast of homemade bread, scrambled eggs, fried mushrooms and fried bacon with cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and basil we headed up to Clifton to truly do the tourist thing.

Saturday breakfastWe walked up past the floating harbour, college green and park street so as to take in lots of the main Bristol sights, before wandering the leafy streets of Clifton marvelling at the massive houses and cute little boutiques.

The steam train at the harbourside
The steam train at the harbourside

Then we got onto the main event – Brunel’s Suspension Bridge. Even though we’ve been here dozens of times it never fails to take your breath away.

Suspension Bridge

We walked over it and took a few snaps and then decided to go and warm up with some chocolatey goodness! Bar Chocolat is the only place to go to in Clifton if you’re in the mood for chocolate (when are you not?!), they offer amazing real hot chocolate where you can choose your chocolate (white, house blend or dark) and then add flavourings such as cayenne pepper, orange oil, malt extract or flavoured syrups and then add toppings such as marshmallows. Bird opted out of hot chocolate as the cakes were calling! The hot chocolates had were house blend with hazelnut syrup, house blend with orange oil and dark chocolate with orange oil. We’re both massive fans of chocolate with orange, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. There is a jaw-dropping selection of amazing looking cakes on offer, Bird plumped for a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate, orange and almond truffle cake to go with a lemon & ginger tea. The cake was perfect, moist but with a nice crumb, with a perfect balance of flavours.

Feeling suitably tubby and satisfied we meandered back towards the house stopping off in M Shed on the way. M Shed is a fairly new museum to Bristol, it opened just over two years ago and tells the story of Bristol through the ages, often through the voices of the people. It’s a really engaging place to visit, plenty of interactive displays – great for all ages!

Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Clifton Arcade
Clifton Arcade
The "National Treasure" Gromit in M Shed
The “National Treasure” Gromit in M Shed

We went to see The Boy Who Cried Wolf at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre and it was really fantastic – this week is the last week of it being on, if you’re in the Bristol area we urge you to go along! Two years ago we saw Treasure Island at the Old Vic, this was an outdoor production because the theatre was being renovated and it was outstanding, the set was so innovate, the cast was so talented so when we heard that they were doing another outdoor production we had to go along. As the name suggests this is a collection of Aesop’s Fables adapted for the stage by award winning author Michael Morpurgo. They were performed by an incredibly talented cast of just 5 people who sung their way through the fables. Although it is aimed at children, it is hilarious for adults too, we left feeling extremely happy and uplifted.

By this point it was just after half past 8 and we were getting hungry! We went to our first choice, No 1. Harbourside which we’ve had lunch at a few times and always delivers simple, wonderful local food for amazing value. At No 1. you get a free bowl of soup with every main meal – on Saturday this was carrot and coriander. It had a gorgeous spicy kick and was just the right amount, the perfect starter. Then onto the main courses – our guests both went for the burger which was huge and came with a generous portion of well seasoned french fries.

Fats chose hanger steak which came with mustard, rocket and roasted vine tomatoes while Bird chose pork belly (with crackling to die for!) which was served with roasted chicory and fennel and broad beans all in a rich gravy. Sorry there are no photos of any of these, we were so hungry by this point we just dived straight in!

Sunday
This was a little more like a normal Sunday as our guests were visiting some friends of theirs who live close to us so Bird went to ballet while Fats went for a bike ride to Bath. Back at the house, freshly showered, we put together a lovely lunch of leftover Serrano ham and goats cheese left over from the pizza making, served with leftover homemade bread, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and a salad made from 3 tiny courgettes Bird picked up at the market sliced into ribbons with a potato peeler dressed with fresh chilli, lemon juice, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Courgette salad

Lunch leftovers

Feeling suitably smug after exercise and a healthy lunch we cracked on with making some brownies! We will do a separate post on these but suffice to say we were inspired by Bar Chocolat’s chocolate, almond and orange cake and decided to go one step further and add raspberries! Those of you who follow us on Instagram will have seen a teaser.

It seemed a crime not to tuck into these so we spent Sunday evening, when our guests came back, snuggled up watching Shaun of the Dead, drinking tea and eating freshly baked brownies!

Monday
The last day of the weekend and it really came through for us – the sun shone! Sun + bank holiday never normally happens in the UK so we decided to make the most of it. We sent the boys off for picnic supplies and then headed to the park with ham and tomato sandwiches, cheese and caramelised onion relish sandwiches, root vegetable crisps, fresh anchovies in a lemon and herb dressing and fresh strawberries. After a laze in the sun we headed to our new favourite place The Stable to try their cider tasting board. You get a third of a pint of 5 different ciders/perrys to try for £7.50 – we got 2 boards between the four of us so that no flights back to Edinburgh were missed! About an hour and a half later we headed home, distinctly merry and still arguing about whether number 4 or 2 was best…. or was it 5?

Cider board
We had a fantastic weekend with some amazing friends, some fabulous food – we think it’s the sign of a brilliant time when you have such a great time even when you’re feeling ill! Thanks Bristol for another gurt lush weekend!

The Stable – Review

We’ve just got time tonight to write our first restaurant review!  (That is if we can see through the cider haze…)

The Stable is a brand new restaurant/bar on the Bristol harbourside.  Their tagline is “Pizza, Pies, and Cider” and though it would be hard to disappoint with such an awesomely simple concept they really deliver.  It is set inside one of the old warehouses by the harbour.  Inside the spacious, high-ceilinged restaurant long tables are arranged with benches, which really helps to create a west country farmhouse atmosphere.

We both grabbed a cider as soon as we got there, as part of the “Tuck-in Tuesday” special offer – a pizza, a cider and a side salad for £10 (bargain! Living up to my “Fats” moniker) – and ordered a Harbourside Herbivore (West Country blue cheese, spinach, potato, roasted red onion, tomato and mozzarella – Fats) and a West Country Porker (Bath Pig Co. chorizo, mozzarella and rocket – Bird).  Both were delicious!  Thin and crispy bases, incredibly tasty toppings.  This place really stands up for itself as a pizza restaurant in a city where it’s not difficult to find amazing pizza.

The West Country Porker
The West Country Porker

Of course it would be sacrilege to visit without trying the cider, even on a work night…  Between us we tried quite a selection (although we didn’t quite feel up to sampling all 30+ varieties).  Our favourite was Devon Red – tangy and sweet, perfectly refreshing.  We can’t wait to try the rest of them, although we might have to spread it out a bit between visits.

Pizza and Cider - inspired combination!
Pizza and Cider – inspired combination!

The Stable comes highly recommended, make sure you get there soon!