My husband has discovered a way of cooking pork belly that produces the lightest fluffiest, crunchiest crackling ever. I think he stumbled upon this by accident, though he claims to have known about it all along, but I swear I've never had crackling this good in the past. Anyway, I'm not going to press him on this issue because if you corner my husband, he comes out swinging, which is enough to give anyone a fright.
Okay so what you do is take a goodly portion of pork belly (about 500g), score the skin in a diamond pattern and then rub a lot of sea salt into it and leave this to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or more.
Then you put it in on a greased baking sheet or tray or pan or whatever and put it in a pre-heated oven at 140C for 3 hours. Then when that time is up, you turn the heat up to absolute top bongoes and cook it for another 30 mins. Then you rest it for 20 min. And the crackling bubbles up like packing noodles, only in a much more delicious way. Try it!
I have started doing pork belly this way for the kids, which turns out to be very easy and cheap as you can put the belly on when the youngest one wakes up from its nap, take both out for a saunter, then it's ready when you come back. I use about 250g for them and cook it for only 2 hrs with a 20 min blast at the end.
They turned out to like it quite by accident. I was doing something with some leftover belly and Kitty ran into the kitchen looking for scraps - this is quite a common occurrence - and I handed her some of the crunchy crackling as she is a fiend for anything crunchy and she dug it. Sam by now wanted some of the action because whatever Kitty is doing, he wants to do, too. My experience is generally that once children have eaten and enjoyed something once, usually in some sort of situation where they have "found" it or "stolen" it - rather than presented it nicely on a plate - they're all set for it. So once a week they get pork belly 3 ways, which is some crackling, a bone to gnaw on like the animals they are, and then some of the actual pork either alongside, or mixed into, fried rice. It's a welcome change from sausages.
|Pork belly 3 ways|
Now, Christmas. DON'T PANIC! It's going to be okay. You do know what you are doing, I'm sure and you're only feeling panicked because you're a bit of an hysteric and like making a fuss. It's alright! I don't mean that in a pejorative way - I do the same thing myself.
I mean, this is unless you actually don't do much cooking and really don't know what you are doing, in which case, why on EARTH have you offered to cook Christmas lunch you absolute, total crazy?
I'm not cooking Christmas lunch or dinner this year, so I'm not feeling especially uptight about it but if I were cooking Christmas lunch what I'd be doing round about now is buying and watching Jamie's Christmas on DVD - as I have not been smart enough to record it off the telly in previous years. There is also, I see, an extended collection available on Amazon, a 6 DVD bonanza! Tricky not to buy it really. I may have even bought it already in a drunken stupor - delightful things that I have always wanted seem to mysteriously arrive at this house in brown boxes approximately 36 hrs after I happen to have had that extra glass of wine.
So don't panic if you don't want to. It's all about making lists. Just make those lists, get those deliveries in and roll with the punches. But to my mind, a bit of panic is good. Keeps you on your toes. Just don't mix panic with booze because it will make you look old and mad.
Coming up: what the fuck to do for a Boxing Day Buffet.
Stay with us.