with Onion and Apple velouté
Vivid Sydney made its brief annual appearance recently. Celebrating light, music and ideas; the free festival encourages thousands of visitors to brave the crisp evening air around Sydney’s foreshore as famous landmarks and sideshow attractions light up the city in a spectacular choreographed display of lights and music.
We invited a few of our friends to join us for dinner before we paid Vivid Sydney a visit. The chilly weather was the perfect excuse to unleash the ultimate comfort food: twice-cooked pork belly with onion and apple velouté.
Though this pork recipe requires 3 days of preparation, it involves simple cooking processes that anyone can do. On Day one, I cured the pork in a salt, star anise and coriander seed spice rub for 24 hours.
On day two, I wiped off the salt then confitted the pork belly (covered the belly in oil and slowly cooked it in the oven for 3 hours). I then drained the fat, and weighed down the entire belly with a baking tray piled with heavy cans so the belly was flattened to an even thickness. I then refrigerated the pork belly overnight.
On day three, just before my guests arrived, I carved up the belly into portions, and baked them in a hot oven until the skin became crispy. The result? Twice-cooked melt-in-your-mouth pork belly goodness and some very happy guests. I served it with a creamy onion and apple veloute and crisp beans and carrots on the side.
To confit a piece of pork belly may seem to be over-indulgent, but in its defence, the slow-cooking melts away much of the belly fat so it shrinks significantly. But hey, it IS pork belly. If you’re on a diet, stick to your salad. But as we all know, you really don’t make friends with salad.
Twice-Cooked Pork Belly
Based on Gordon Ramsay’s recipe
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 star anise
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- ½ a whole pork belly , about 1.5kg (ask for the thin half), boned, skin left on but not scored
- handful thyme
- handful rosemary
- 2 x 350g jars goose fat (or use lard, sunflower or vegetable oil)
- 6 curly parsley sprigs
With a pestle and mortar, create a spice rub by crushing the coriander seeds with the star anise, then stir through the salt. Season the pork on both sides with the spice rub. Place the pork, skin side up in an ovenproof dish that is just large enough to hold it. Scatter over the herbs, then leave overnight (or up to 24 hours) to really develop the flavours.
For the first cooking, heat the oven to 150C. If using goose fat, empty it into a saucepan and heat until liquid and starting to simmer. Ladle the fat over the pork and add lard/sunflower oil/vegetable oil to cover if you need to. If using lard or sunflower/vegetable oil, add to the belly so it just covers it. Cover the dish with foil, then cook the pork in the oven, undisturbed, for 3 hours, by which time it will be very tender.
Remove the dish from the oven and leave it to settle for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a tray with a piece of greaseproof paper. Carefully lift the pork from the fat and pick off any herbs. Lay it on the paper, skin side down. Cut another piece of paper and lay it over the pork. Cover with a tray, weighed down with a couple of cans, and leave in fridge overnight. This will help flatten the pork into a more uniform thickness. Once flattened overnight, carve up the pork belly into serving portions and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Now with all the preparation done, on the day of serving you can impress your guests with minimum effort and fuss because you’ve already done all the curing and slow cooking ahead of time!
Day Three (or the day of serving)
Defrost to room temperature before proceeding with the following steps. For the second and final stage of cooking the pork belly, preheat oven to 220C. Remove portions from the tray and peel away the paper.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large non-stick ovenproof pan. Lay the pork portions, skin side down, then place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until the skin is crispy.
While the pork is roasting, blanche the carrots and beans in rapidly boiling salted water until tender. Drain and keep warm.
Remove the pork from the oven and check to see that the skin has blistered, then carefully flip it over. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, then divide between warmed plates skin-side up. Add carrots and beans, lying them in the same direction as the pork. Spoon a puddle of velouté over the vegetables and serve immediately.
Onion and Apple Velouté
The perfect opportunity to cook this is as the pork is slowly cooking in the oven for 3 hours. Then when you’re ready to serve the pork, reheat over low heat until hot. Or if you’re freezing your pork, freeze it little portions of it too. Too easy.
- 25g butter
- 4 onions , finely chopped
- 2 Granny Smith apples , cored and sliced
- 250ml chicken stock
- 150ml double cream
- Heat the butter in a frying pan. Add the onions and apples, and sautee for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently until soft, but not coloured. Pour in the stock and simmer for 8 minutes until the apples start to collapse. Stir in the cream, then simmer everything for two miutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
- Carefully tip into a blender, blitz until as smooth as possible (or you can use a stainless steel stick mixer to blend, which is what I used). Serve hot, over the accompanying vegetables.