Slow cooked rolled roast pork with a sage, bacon and cranberry stuffing and home-made apple sauce and ketchup
Slow cooked rolled roast pork (with a sage, bacon and cranberry stuffing)
Whenever I have a big group of friends coming over for dinner, like I did last night, my favourite recipe to turn to is this, a slow cooked rolled roast pork belly, stuffed with my own mixture of cranberries, bacon, sage from our garden, breadcrumbs and a bit of butter to bind the stuffing loosely together.
Pork belly has become very fashionable lately, helped by celebrity chefs like Mike Robinson espousing its many attributes, and it’s his method of slow roasting pork belly that I’ve adapted over the years. I find it quite funny because Chinese people have revered this particular cut of pork for years – it’s prized over any other cut of pork because of the fat and the tenderness of the meat.
I’m pleased people are now aware of the beauty of pork belly but this has pushed the price of pork belly up in the UK; thankfully, it however still remains one of the more affordable cuts of meat and so stress free if you cook it this way. When you’re about to have a mass of people descend on you, not only won’t it break the bank, you’re free to spend your time with your friends instead of slaving in the kitchen.
For my recipe, I bought a whole side of pork belly, ribs and all, and the price came up to a grand total £16.00. I removed the whole rack of ribs, which I’ve put away in the freezer to grill another day (recipe soon :)) and I cut about 1/3 of the pork belly off, partly because I wanted to create a neater rectangular piece for my roast, but also because I really didn’t need to cook all of it yesterday. That too went into my freezer to be roasted another day. By my calculation, the amount of pork I therefore ended up using to feed all 8 of us (there was enough pork for 10 people) last night came up to no more than £12 at the very most. That’s less than £2 per person.
The most time consuming bit of preparing the pork is tying it up.
The most amazing thing about this slow roasted pork belly is, without a doubt, the crackling. By slow roasting the pork for four hours in a gentle oven, all of the fat is rendered away, leaving you with just the thinnest of crackling that shatters like glass when you carve it. If you don’t believe me, look at the photo below and you’ll see the shard like edges on the crackling – that was the cracking literally shattering when I cut into it. You can almost see right through the crackling!
However, while the crackling is dry and crisp, the rolled pork is the polar opposite – moist, succulent and full of flavour because the gentle oven never allows it to dry out while the fat has rendered into the meat, making it extra juicy.
If you fancy trying to roast pork belly this way, do however get a piece of unscored pork belly. You want to be able to roll and tie up the pork belly itself because when you’re ready to carve your pork, all you need to do is to cut along your string line, and everyone will get a perfect round piece of stuffed roasted pork with their own circle of crisp crackling.
Some boiled new potatoes and blanched green vegetables are, I think, the best accompaniment – clean flavours to cut through the richness of the pork.
For me, this roast pork has to be accompanied with a home-made apple sauce. Pork and apple is just the perfect marriage. Using the last of the apples from my brother-in-law’s garden, I added my secret ingredient – Japanese pickled pink ginger slices – in the cooking process to create a warm apple sauce to go with the pork. That, and our own home-made ketchup using the last of the tomatoes we harvested from our garden, was all we needed to complete the meal, no gravy required!
This recipe has to be the most stress-free way of cooking for a large group because you hardly have to spend any time in the kitchen:
2.30pm: make stuffing (5 minutes)
2.35pm: prepare pork ie cut off ribs and extra pork, bung in freezer (2 minutes)
2.37pm: spread stuffing on pork, roll and tie up the pork (10mins max)
Then I took a break, made a cup of tea, and waited for my friends to arrive.
3.00pm: friends arrive, pre-heat oven
3.30pm: bung pork into oven then spent the day with friends, didn’t really step back into the kitchen again until about 7pm (while I was out antique window shopping with my friend, my husband made his ketchup).
7.00pm: peeled apples and sliced ginger, cooked on the hobb for 10mins. Sauce done
7.30pm: took pork out of the oven and set aside to rest
7.30pm: put potatoes on to boil
7.45: put greens on to boil
7.50: drained potatoes and vegetables
7.52pm: carved pork
7. 55pm: raised glasses and started eating 🙂
If you’d like the recipe for this roast pork, apple sauce and home-made ketchup, click here.
I’m signing off for the next 4 days as I’m away on a work trip but I hope you all have a great week ahead.
Lots of love