I absolutely love roast pork belly … the combination of the crispy skin and the soft, rich layers of meat that melt in your mouth (when it’s done right) is delicious! But I am a little bit afraid of most pork cuts that depart from the usual suspects, so I have been hesitant to try this myself. That, and for this recipe you need to make yourself reasonably available for around 4 hours on and off. I probably didn’t leave this cooking for long enough (I followed the recipe, however the crackling could have been…well…more crackly!) So just a word of advice, don’t be afraid to keep roasting it for longer than the recipe says to, it is pretty hard to mess up – the longer you roast it, the more tender it will become.
Seeing as it is so rich, I can only ever really stomach an entreée size portion of pork so it is a good idea to supplement it with something subtle and hearty to serve as a main, like root vegies or as i have done here, root vegetable puree. The relish in this recipe is delicious and cuts the rich flavour of the pork, while adding a sweet dimension to the meal. The watercress is a nice garnish and adds something fresh and untouched to the plate.
The recipes for the roast pork belly and the cranberry and elderflower relish are based on recipes by Ottolenghi’s creators; Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Both born in Jerusalem, their food has a strong middle eastern influence and is very much about colour, texture, presentation, of course flavour and the freshest of fresh ingredients. They don’t over complicate the cooking or preparation process and their food is not wanky. Their successful stores are located in London and are very hard to label one thing or another – they themselves sum it up with the words ‘food shop, patisserie, deli, restaurant, bakery’ and yet this still doesn’t do it justice … and to think I have never actually set foot in one of their stores! (although I have seriously considered forking out the $3000 + for a plane ticket just to do so). Thank the lord for their recently released cook book ‘Ottolenghi, The Cookbook’. Yotam and Sami’s passion for, nay, obsession with food is so evident in every dish… something which I hope is true of my own creations.