Braised belly pork with quince
Ingredients to serve 4
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 07 January 2010
1.2kg piece belly pork or thereabouts, ideally organic Middle White, scored
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
600ml pear perry or good, dry cider
1 heaped tablespoon blackstrap molasses
3 bay leaves
1 star anise
6 juniper berries, bruised
1 tablespoon dark molasses sugar
1 tablespoon acacia or other runny honey
Preheat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1. Lay the pork belly, rind up, on a board. Rub some olive oil into the rind with your fingers, then do likewise with salt and pepper. Leave the pork to stand in a cool place for 30 minutes to one hour.
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the pork, skin side down. The rind should seize and brown a little. Slide a knifepoint under the skin into the fat at intervals to encourage it to run a little.
Quarter the quinces, leaving their skins on, and core them. They will be very hard, so go carefully with the knife. Instantly dunk them all over in the lemon juice so that they don't discolour.
Take the pan off the heat and tuck the quinces snugly around the pork. Heat the pear perry or cider and pour it around the quinces and meat. Drip the blackstrap molasses over the belly, throw in the bay leaves, star anise, juniper berries and cloves, and sprinkle over the sugar and honey. Bring back to a simmer. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper (a cartouche), cut to fit, and the lid. Cook in the oven for two hours.
Spike a quince quarter to see that it is tender, and if not, return to the oven and test again after a further 20 minutes.
Serve straight from the pot. I like to serve mine with borlotti beans – soaked and cooked in half red wine and half water – with added cubes of celeriac fried in olive oil and rosemary. Potatoes or brown rice would also be good.
From 'Supper for a Song' by Tamasin Day-Lewis (Quadrille, £20).
Vinha Padre Pedro 2006, Portugal
Fruity aromas with overtones of cinnamon and vanilla. This won't overpower the delicate quince.
Marks & Spencer, £6.99, www.marksandspencer.com
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