Sunday, 6 January 2013




Belly pork and Stuffing - mainly off line

I'm sure mum made something similar to this once or twice when we were kids. Belly pork was a good cheap meal then, now, like so many thrifty cuts of meat it's all gone a bit trendy (read over priced!) but you can't ignore it's versatility or flavour. No one likes tough pork so this is a slow cook recipe.

Apart from twenty-ish minutes in a hot oven (why not bake some scones at the same time) everything can be cooked off line and a lot of it is better for it. One of the almost byproducts of the cooking method is a tasty cooking liquor that makes a very easy but top-end restaurant quality sauce as an alterative to gravy. (In fact the sauce was a regular on the menu of a country house hotel I used to work in when I was a teenager.)

First the a list of roughly what you will need:

Belly pork or boneless chop (whatever is better quality/value)
Stock cube
Bramley apple (or what ever is lying around getting wrinkly)
Stale bread (crust is good)
A banger or two (leftover cooked ones are fine)
A few wallnuts
A few dates
Chilli jam if you want
Splash of calvados or brandy if you haven't drunk it all
Sugar, salt and pepper

Now what to do with it all:

Stuffing first then. Dice half an onion, rip up the stale crust of bread, chop up the sausage, and chuck it all in a mini food processor with the nuts, dates and chilli jam. Give it a good blitz until it looks a bit like crumble topping. It will be a bit dry so put it in a bowl and add water a table spoon at a time until it all comes together. A bit of salt and pepper and you're done. I cheated today because I've got loads to do and hate washing up so I've used aluminium trays like takeaway ones to build the dish up in. 

 Next the pork. Trim any rind off but keep the fat. In a heavy based pan (I use cast iron on top of the stove) seal the pork, no need for extra oil. Once it's browned off, cover with water add a stock cube put the lid on and forget about it for an hour or so until very tender.

When the pork is just about done go back to your stuffing tray and add thin slices of bramley apple, about quarter of an apple per serving, all over the top. Before the apple starts to go brown put the pork strips or chop on top. Skim some of the fat off the pork cooking stock and drizzle it over the exposed apple. Once your layered pork tray is done it can be covered and kept until about half an hour before you want to eat (mine was done by 8.00 this morning).

Back to the sauce.  Dice the rest of the apple nice and small, chuck it in with the stock with a little salt and pepper a touch of sugar to balance the apple acidity and just a touch of booze (calvados for dinner party, brandy for yourself or even a bit of dry sherry left over from Christmas). Let the sauce tick over on the stove until reduced to about a wine glass full, bramley apples should have held their shape, eaters will be mushy but still taste good. Add about the same quantity of double cream and slightly reduce. Take it off the stove until needed.

Nearly there, cook the pork trays in a hot oven 200+ deg C for about half hour until nice and crispy on top.

Deb tucking in! 

To finish, just warm the sauce up stirring in a nice healthy knob of butter.

As you can see, this is quite a rich dish so I've served it with quick and easy stove top ratatouille, no spuds needed in my opinion.

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