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Monday 16 December 2013

3BM Cook: Ottolenghi Pork Belly...

We haven't treated our lovely Mice followers to a truly scrumptious recipe for a little while now. With this in mind I think you're all due something a little bit spectacular and nothing does the job like Mr.Ottolenghi! We actually cooked the following treasure back in November for Daddy Robbo's birthday - HK mouse was home visiting us all so we shut Daddy in the lounge with a generous glass of red and some cashews to nibble on and off we all scurried to whip up a tasty feast fit for a king and that it certainly was...

Crackling Pork Belly with an orange and anise sauce...

So what are the secret ingredients then?
  • 7 oranges, halved
  • 1 bunch thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 2-3kg pork belly, rind on
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper
  • 2/3 bottle white wine
  • For the star anise reduction
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 180ml balsamic vinegar
  • 160g honey 
  • 10 star anise
The above serves 6-8 people but be warned it's tricky to share this creation evenly - don't be alarmed if you find yourself dishing up an extra large portion for yourself whilst no one is looking!
So for starters get your oven heated up to its highest temperature. Whilst that's warming up, slice your oranges in halves and arrange them in a large roasting tray. place the herbs, garlic and olive oil in a blender to roughly whip them up into a purée.

Next lay the pork belly out on top of the oranges in the oven tray skin-side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now it's time to get stuck in - roll up your sleeves and use your hands to spread the 
purée herb mixture all over the top, pressing it on so it sticks to the meat. Mini mouse took charge here - no surprises there... any excuse to get messy!

Turn the belly skin-side up and sprinkle sea salt evenly all over the skin - be careful not to go over the top with the salt as you don’t want to create a crust because this will affect the all-important naughty but oh-so-good crackling from forming. Next pop the tray in the oven and blast-roast for 1 hour, turning the tray around halfway through. 
With the first stage of the recipe now complete pat yourselves on the back by pouring yourself a glass of something strong - mine's a Hendricks and tonic and the other two Mice joined daddy Robbo on the red. Kick back and relax but don't get so boozy that you forget to turn the oven tray as instructed above! 
Times up - back to your Chefly duties! Once the skin has formed a touch of crackling, turn your oven down to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Next pour the white wine into the tray (avoiding the piggy pork skin) and continue roasting for another hour. Keep an eye on the belly and if it starts to turn black, cover it with foil.

You're nearly there! Your last chore is to turn the oven down to 110°C and continue roasting for another hour, until the skin has well and truly crackled. Whilst the skin crisps up, it's time to prepare the Pièce de résistance - the orange and star anise sauce. Drop all ingredients into a pan and place over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the sauce has fully thickened and reduced to a third. 
Finally it's time to plate up - we choose to accompany our Ottolenghi creation with a British side of roasty potatoes, parsnips and green beans - yum, yum, yum! 
So what was the verdict? A solid 10/10 you'll be pleased to hear, we all consumed the feast in record speed and Daddy Robbo was full of compliments for his three chef mice (and you should know he doesn't give praise lightly)!   
This dish also makes for a perfect festive meal - spicy anise mixed with zingy orange sweetness - delish. Try it this Christmas - go on...!


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