Sloth

Sloth

“Lazy pig”

Confit pork belly, black pudding fritter, celeriac puree, apple and cider sauce, apple and black pudding puree

…………..

Pork belly is probably my favourite ingredient. The combination of the fat, succulent, soft meat and salty, crisp crackling just works so well together. Pork belly seemed like a perfect choice to represent sloth and I think this course was my favourite of any we made for the meal; I love trying to take cheap ingredients and elevate them to be something really special. All the plates came back almost licked clean so it seems it was a success. It worked really well with its theme too, one of the rare occasions on which we seemingly managed to sync the food and the concept.

Our original plan was to use the meat from pigs’ heads, brine it for a day and sous-vide it for three, then press it before breadcrumbing and deep frying. We had managed to get the heads for free from the butchers Hedges in Oxford’s Covered Market because of the hog roast we did the week before, so it was all going to plan. Hedges are great butchers, friendly people with some quality produce so we’re always happy to go and visit them to sort out our ingredients (by contrast see the post for greed and how much we dislike the fishmonger Haymans in Oxford’s covered market). However, having successfully, if inexpertly, butchered the meat from the pigs’ heads we neglected to start the brining process due to end of term festivities. Whilst we were having fun the pigs’ faces went off in my fridge. This made me sad on two counts; firstly, my fridge and room smelt like decomposing pork and secondly, we couldn’t use them in the dinner. Annoyed but undeterred, we elected to make confit pork belly instead. This seemed to fit in particularly well with the theme of slothfulness anyway, perhaps better than the original dish. After all, what could be more slothful than lying around in duck fat for two days?

Whilst it isn’t included in the recipe here I would recommend pressing the pork belly after you have confit’ed it. Leave something heavy on it overnight and it will keep its shape much better when you come to crisp its skin. Also if you are making this as part of a smaller menu, cut the pieces into larger shapes than the cubes we used. I did a pork belly recipe in the first meal and one and a half bellies was enough for thirteen people, though I would have preferred to serve larger portions.

This recipe requires a waterbath and vacuum sealer – if you don’t have either of these things it’s definitely still possible to do it. Rather than confit the pork belly, place it in a high-sided roasting tray with onions, garlic and herbs, add stock to halfway up the meat, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and put in the oven at 160c for around two and a half hours. After this take it out, press it and crisp just before serving it as you would with the confit.

I love the sauce we made to accompany the dish, the acidity really helps to cut through the fattiness of the dish and if you use good stock it has an amazing depth of flavour. The recipe takes at least three days to do if you use the salt rub as here; you could omit this part of the recipe but if you have time I recommend you include it.

The black pudding and apple puree was a last minute addition but really added to the dish. It looks undeniably disgusting but it tastes brilliant. The puree does require an ungodly amount of sieving though, but luckily for me Ollie was delegated this task.  It seemed to make him fairly sad but misery+time = tastiness so it was worth it.

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Recipe

Confit belly

  • 2.5kg pieces of bone in and skin intact pork belly
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Thyme, bay leaves
  • Duck fat to cover in bag

Freeze the duck fat, this is to make sure when you seal it in with the pork it isn’t removed from bag.

Rub the pork with the aromatics and salt and leave in fridge for 24 hours

Rinse pork and pat dry, seal in a vacuum bag with the duck fat.

Cook in a waterbath at 60ocfor 2 days

Plunge into an ice bath and refrigerate. If you have something suitable place a heavy weight on top of pork, this will help it keep its shape when you cut and crisp it.

Belly with Rub

Black pudding fritters

  • 1kg pork belly, ribs removed
  • 1kg black pudding, finely sliced
  • 500g panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil/duck fat to fry

Cook the pork belly in a roasting tray for a couple of hours at a low temperature, around 130c. This is to and render the pork fat from the belly as well as cook the meat.

Shred the pork belly meat, reserving the pork fat in the bottom of the tray

Line a load tin with greaseproof paper, then layer the bottom of the tin with slices of the black pudding, then place a layer of pork belly meat on top of this, pour in some of the pork fat. Repeat the process until all the pork belly and black pudding is used up.

Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours, place something heavy on top of this. If you have another loaf tin you could place this on top and fill it with rice or something similar. I ended up using a load of juice cartons we had lying around, rudimentary but effective.

Remove from the loaf tin and cut into bite-sized pieces (about an inch cubed) and coat in the breadcrumbs

Deep-fry the fritters for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Apple Cider Sauce

  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • drizzle groundnut oil
  • 500g/1lb 2oz, chopped pork bones, roasted
  • 250ml/9fl oz English cider vinegar
  • 2 litres/3 pints 5fl oz brown chicken stock
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 head garlic, split
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 500ml/1 pint fresh Granny Smith apple juice

Gently fry the shallot and celery in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until golden-brown and starting to caramelise

Add the roasted pork bones and stir for one minute

Deglaze with the cider vinegar, then cook until the liquid has reduced to a sticky consistency

Add the stock and bring to the boil, stirring well and skimming the fat off

Add the sage, garlic and peppercorns and boil for another 25 minutes, skimming occasionally

Pass the mixture through a chinois or fine sieve, then pass the strained liquid through a muslin cloth several times.

Return the strained liquid to a clean pan and stir in the apple juice

Bring to the boil, skim away any impurities and reduce to a sauce consistency

Celeriac Puree

  • 1 large celeriac

Celeriac Simmering

  • 300-450ml double cream
  • Butter

Chop the celeriac into 1.5cm cubes

Very gently fry in some butter until golden brown at edges

Simmer in cream until very soft

Puree and push through a chinois, this will take a long time but it will be worth it to make the puree perfectly smooth.

Season and add butter for creaminess. Note: Only use finely ground black pepper and not cracked pepper to season anything you put in a squeezy bottle. This might seem obvious but the larger pieces get stuck in the noozle.

Decant to a squeezy bottle.

Not the most appealing colour...

Apple and black pudding puree

This puree looks fairly repellent but actually tastes delicious.

  • 8 Braeburn apples, peeled, cores removed, chopped
  • 400g/7oz black pudding

Double vacuum pack the cored apples and cook in a pan of boiling water for 30 minutes, or just soften in a pan with some butter until cooked.

Remove the apples from the bags, drain off the excess juice and blend together with the black pudding

Pass the mixture through a chinois (this took Olly about 40 minutes but was worth it, at least for everyone else) and season.

Serve:

Chop pork bellies into 1 inch cubes or larger portions if you prefer.

Put a pan on a high heat and add the belly skin down for a couple of minutes until crisp, then turn the hob down to a medium heat and turn the pork over to warm through.

Squeeze a line of celeriac puree onto a plate, parallel to this squeeze a line of the apple and black pudding puree.

Place a fritter and a belly cube side by side across the puree line.

Drizzle with sauce and serve.

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  1. […] Sloth « birdfood. A really good pork belly dish we hodge-podged together. Check it out. […]



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