Tag Archives: pork belly

Our 2nd Plate Lickers Supper Club…

Three weeks ago we announced the 2nd Plate Lickers Supper Club, this time with a Middle Eastern theme. Places filled fast and before we knew it, our chosen day, Friday 13th July had rolled around and myself and Ivana (Miss Igs) were embarking upon a very busy day of last minute preparation and cooking ready for our full house of 30 hungry Cambridge foodies! We were still buzzing from our first event back in May and although the feedback we’d received from our guests was wonderfully positive we were determined to up our game and push the boat out even more this time! 

We concentrated on using as many local suppliers as possible, one of whom was fruit & veg afficionado, Twitter veteran, Managing Director of Cambridge Fruit Company and serial Foodcycle donator Mr Neil B. Neil was great…he gave us advice on seasonality, price and quantity and then sourced and delivered delicious veggies straight to our door with a huge smile…

We were particularly excited about our secret venue…which we revealed the day before the supper club to be St Paul’s on Hills Road. I’d like to give a big thank you to John, the Centre Manager for all of his help and for allowing us to borrow the church, which we set about dressing in true Plate Lickers style…

and unveiled our Middle Eastern inspired menu…

At 7.30pm our guests arrived…

and were greeted with a pomegranate & vodka cocktail…

and homemade hummus and aubergine dips…

When everyone had settled down at their tables we handed around teacups of our green gazpacho, a refreshing mix of spinach, cucumber, green pepper, chilli, garlic, parsley, yoghurt and ice…

and then it was time for the main event…pork belly, a whopping 8.5kg of Dingley Dell pork belly to be precise… 

I’d like to give a very special shout out to the lovely butchers at Andrew Northrop Butchers on Mill Road. When I popped in to have a chat and order our meat they were so helpful, advising me on quantities, whether to cook it on or off the bone (we opted for on) and more importantly, imparting their wisdom on exactly how to make sure our crackling was awesome! They scored the skin for me and then told me that their top crackling tip was to dampen your hand and lightly wipe the surface of the skin wetting it just enough to give the salt something to stick to without soaking it as this would be detrimental to your crackling! As you can see their advice worked wonders!…

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled on Miss Igs blog to find out exactly how we cooked this beaut, but I can tell you that we ended up with the most tender, fall off the bone, melt in the mouth pork belly, which we served with a couscous salad and a green bean, sugar snap, orange and hazelnut salad and my homemade gooseberry, ginger and elderflower relish (recipe to follow)…

After a refreshing little course of mint tea and orange blossom sorbet we served up the dessert…nut stuffed baked peaches in cinnamon & rosewater syrup with polenta & almond cake…

By this time the light was fading, the atmospheric church setting was coming into its own…

and the wine and conversations was flowing…

We’ve well and truly caught the supper club bug…watch this space for our next date or if you’d like us to keep you informed sign up to our all new mailing list here.

A final thanks to all of our lovely guests, of whom a nerve wracking majority seemed to be food bloggers and writers! We’ve been bowled over by the lovely write ups, mentions and tweets we’ve been receiving since Friday. Here are the ones we know about so far…

Aoife wrote a lovely post about us on her Gastronomic Girls blog here.

Nora has posted about us on her Nora the kitchen ‘Splorer here.

Ireena wrote this on her blog ‘Oh! Not another food blog’

Heidi wrote this fab review, which is also on Local Secrets here.

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My first foray into the wonderful world of slow roasted pork belly…

My name is Jo and I’m a pork belly addict! There…I’ve said it! don’t they say that admitting to your addiction is the first step of recovery…in this instance however, maybe I don’t want to recover! If I’m presented with a menu containing a pork belly dish, I get tunnel vision and all the other (probably delicious) dishes pale into insignificance! 

I’ve never attempted cooking pork belly myself…that is until last weekend! I’ve been house sitting for some friends in Cambridge and in my mission for wholesome domesticity I invited my parents and brother over for Sunday dinner and decided to cook them ‘slow-roasted pork belly with the sweetest braised fennel’ a la Jamie Oliver.

I biked over to the market to pick up 2kg of pork belly and was very happy to see that the butcher took on the job of cutting off the pigs nipples for me…I’m not usually squeamish but the though of being presented with the task of lopping off a pigs nipple was a little beyond me! on a more practical note…I also got him to score the skin with a stanley knife before wobbling off home on my bike with very unbalanced handlebars.

To make the slow-roasted pork belly with braised fennel you need…

1 x 2kg pork belly on the bone, preferably free range

2 tbsp fennel seeds

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 fennel bulbs, cut into sixths

A bunch of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Olive oil

1 x bottle of white wine

Make sure you’re oven is whacked up to its maximum temperature.

Grind the fennel seeds with 2 tablespoons of sea salt in a pestle and mortar until they are a powder (due to my impatience my powder was still fairly coarse but it didn’t prove detrimental to the finished dish). Rub it into the score lines of your pork belly skin.

Put the fennel bulbs, thyme (just the leaves, not the stalks), garlic, a good slug of olive oil and seasoning into a large baking tray…

Lay your pork belly on top…

Put it into the preheated oven. After just 10 minutes, turn it down to 170 degrees and roast for another hour. Apparently putting it into a mega hot oven for a few minutes and then turning it down to slow roast is the key to amazing crackling!

This is what it looked like after 1 hour…

You then drain off any fat and pour the whole bottle of white wine over the fennel in the baking tray and return it to the oven for another hour…

This is what it looked like after 2 hours…

Now you remove the fennel from the tray, transferring it into another dish to either keep warm or, as I did, reheat later for a few minutes in the oven before serving.

It now goes back into the oven for its final stint. I cooked mine for a further hour a half to ensure the crackling was perfectly crackly!

Here it is in all it’s glory after three and a half mouth watering, crackle inducing, tender making hours…

What a beaut! (even if I do say so myself!)

Jamie recommended leaving it to rest for 10 minutes, which I did but then was so eager to get stuck in that any kind of carving finesse went out the window! I served it with mashed potato, the braised fennel and the deliciously concentrated juices that were left in the baking tray…

I’m not sure my photo’s really do it justice but I can tell you that it was absolutely amazing! My family were impressed and with the exception of the occasional murmur of delectation, were rendered uncharacteristically speechless for a good few minutes! 🙂

I encourage all fellow pork belly lovers out there to give this recipe a go!

I’m actually going to The English Pig, a restaurant entirely dedicated to pork dishes, in a couple of days. I hope to be able to indulge my love of pork belly further…but will it measure up I wonder! 🙂

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