Tag Archives: kale

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

Venison Stew with Red Wine and Juniper

This recipe isn’t particularly pretty or elegant… But it is so tasty! If you’re unsure on what to cook this weekend this is the perfect recipe to pop on in the morning, pretty much ignore, and be rewarded with a rich, comforting stew for dinner. Venison is right in season at the moment and it has a gorgeous flavour – gamy but not too strong – and is beautiful paired with rich red wine and the sharpness of juniper to cut through. We cooked ours in a slow cooker but this would work well either on the hob on a very low heat, or in the oven on about 150°C for a couple of hours.

Because of the red wine and the venison this feels a bit fancy – it could be a great and very easy dish to serve to guests, they’ll think you’re all posh but really you’ve ignored it all day! We served ours with mashed potato and some wilted, buttered kale. The kale works particularly well because like the juniper, it cuts through the richness. Stew is so versatile though, so it would be lovely with dumplings, or with a puff pastry top – whatever you feel like!

Ingredients (this made about 3 generous portions):

  • About 250g diced venison
  • 2 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 carrots, roughly diced
  • 4-5 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly diced
  • 1 leek, sliced into large rings
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 1 carton of chopped tomatoes

First coat the venison well in the seasoned flour, then brown in batches in a large frying pan/skillet using 1 tbsp of the oil. When browned pop straight in the slow cooker. Now tip all of the vegetables into the frying pan along with any leftover flour and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and softened. Tip all of this into the slow cooker too. Then put the pan back on the heat and tip in about half of the wine to deglaze the pan making sure to scrape all the stuck bits, there’s lots of flavour in them! Tip this into the slow cooker along with the rest of the wine, the herbs and spices (if you wanted to put the juniper berries and peppercorns into a muslin bag to remove the possibility of crunching down on one then feel free… we’re just lazy), the chopped tomatoes and then half fill the carton/tin with water and tip that in too.

Good red wine is an essential accompaniment to this stew!
Good red wine is an essential accompaniment to this stew!

And that is it! We cooked ours on high for an hour and then on low for about 6-7 hours and served it with mash and wilted, buttered kale seasoned with pepper and a little nutmeg.

Chorizo, Kale and Bean Stew

After yesterdays slightly faffy (although totally worth it) post we’ve got a really simple chuck-it-all-in-the-pot-and-ignore it recipe now! This is also one that works with whatever you have in – we used chorizo, butter beans, courgettes, potatoes and kale but it would be lovely with different beans, spinach or cabbage instead of kale, sweet potatoes instead of new potatoes, peppers or aubergine instead of courgette… anything goes really. After a bit of chopping and about an hour of leaving it to do it’s own thing you’re rewarded with a rich, tasty stew to warm you up.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 50-100g chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a large handful of new potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 courgettes, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins of beans (we used butter beans and black eyed beans)
  • chicken stock
  • 200g shredded kale
  • crusty bread to serve

Put a large casserole dish on a medium heat on the hob and put the olive oil in to heat up. Once it’s hot add the chopped onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring gently. Once the onion is starting to soften add the chorizo and bay leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes, the smoky oil from the chorizo should come out and smell amazing.

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Add the potatoes and courgettes and cook for another few minutes until coated in the oil and the courgette is starting to soften. Then add the chopped tomatoes, the drained tins of beans and enough chicken stock to cover.

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Put a lid on it, turn the heat right down and let it simmer away for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes whack the kale in, put the lid back on to help it wilt, then stir it in and cook for a further 10 minutes and that’s it, you’re done! Serve with some crusty wholemeal bread, the one pictured is a spelt and wholemeal loaf that we made using our basic bread recipe but using 200g of spelt flour, 200g of seeded wholemeal flour and 100g of strong white flour which produces a really nutty loaf, perfect with these strong autumnal flavours.

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