Pork four ways

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Ready for a challenge? This celebration of pork is quite an endurance test, featuring several slow-cooked components. On the plus side, this pork belly recipe by Bryan Webb uses some cost-effective cuts of meat: pigs' trotters, pigs' cheeks, pork belly and pork tenderloin. The pork belly is dramatically layered with black pudding and should be started at least two days in advance as it cooks at a low temperature for 10 hours, then needs to set and press overnight. This pork recipe will make more than you need for the elegant plates pictured above but the work involved means it’s not worth making less - savour the leftovers.

First published in 2015






Shallot and thyme purée

Fondant potatoes

To serve


To prepare the belly pork, preheat the oven to 130°C/gas mark 1/2. Chop the vegetables and put them in a roasting tray with the herbs. Sit the piece of pork on top and cover with water. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper directly onto the meat, then cover the tray with a layer of foil and cook for about 10 hours
Meanwhile, start the crubbeens. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas mark 2 1/2. Make sure the pig’s trotters are well cleaned and any hairs are removed. Put them in a casserole with the ham hock. Roughly chop the carrot, celery, leek and onion and add them to the pan with the bouquet garni
Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and skim off the froth that forms on the surface. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven for about 3 1/2 hours; alternatively you can braise them over a very low heat on the stove
Leave the meat to cool in the pan. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the ham hock from the liquid and shred it, discarding the bones and gristle but keeping the fat. Put the ham and its fat in a large bowl. Cut the trotters in half lengthways. Carefully remove the bones but reserve the skins, and mix the remaining meat and fat with the ham
Melt the butter in a small pan. Finely chop the extra onion and cook it gently until soft. Add this to the ham mixture along with the chopped parsley and mix well
Lay two very large sheets of cling film on top of each other on a clean work surface. Open out the reserved trotter skins and lay them flat side-by-side on the cling film in three slightly overlapping rows, so that you have one large rectangle of skin
Divide the ham mixture into three to make it easier to work with. Place it along the trotter skins and shape into one long sausage. Roll this up in the skins, using the cling film to help you keep it as tight as possible. Twist the ends, tie them with kitchen string to secure and chill overnight
Once the pork belly is done, set aside in the roasting tray until the pork is cool enough to handle
Place the pork belly fat-side up on a board. Carefully deconstruct the belly, separating the skin, meat and most of the fat; discard the bones and sinew. Thinly slice the black pudding and place a layer on top of the belly meat. Place some more belly on top, including some of the excess fat to keep it moist. Put another layer of black pudding on top and a final layer of pork meat, then the skin
Wrap the pork tightly in cling film and place in a tray with another tray on top. Weight it down and chill overnight
To cook the pork cheeks, heat a large, deep pan with a little sunflower oil. Sear the pork cheeks until browned, turning to colour evenly. Season with salt and pepper then remove to a plate or tray
Chop the carrot, celery and shallots and finely chop the ginger. Add these and the garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes, or until soft. Add the coriander and juniper, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for 1-2 minutes
Add the wine and boil to reduce by half. Lower the heat and add the pork cheeks and any juices that collect on the plate. Add the sage, rosemary and bay. Cover with the stock (plus water, if needed, to cover) and simmer for 2 hours or until the cheeks are tender
Lift out the pork cheeks and set aside. Strain the sauce into a clean pan, bring to the boil and reduce until slightly thick. Pop the cheeks back in the sauce and set aside until required
To make the shallot and thyme purée, peel and roughly chop the shallots. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat and add the shallots. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and stir well, then cover and let the shallots break down gently, stirring occasionally to prevent browning
Pick the leaves from the thyme and, once the shallots are very soft, add the thyme and a generous grinding of white pepper. Taste to see if it needs any more salt
Set a colander over a bowl and tip the shallots into it. Leave to drain for 5 minutes. Purée in a food processor until smooth and set aside until needed
To finish the crubbeens, mix the breadcrumbs and mustard powder together in a bowl. Put the flour in a separate bowl and beat the eggs together in a third
Remove the cling film from the trotters and cut into discs. Cut each disc into quarters. Dust the meat all over in the flour, dip into the eggs then toss in the breadcrumb mixture until completely coated
To make the fondant potatoes, heat the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the potatoes and cook until for 5-6 minutes on each side, until golden. Pour in the stock and add the thyme and some seasoning. Cover and reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers. When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the pan and keep warm
To cook the pork tenderloin, preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 8. Heat an ovenproof frying pan with a little oil, add the pork fillet and brown on each side. Transfer to the oven to roast for about 6 minutes then set aside to rest in a warm place
When almost ready to serve, preheat the grill. Cut four pieces of pork belly and place them skin-side up on an oven tray. Grill until crispy. Meanwhile, reheat the pork cheeks, shallot purée and fondant potatoes
To cook the spinach, have ready a bowl with a sieve set over it. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the spinach and stir until it wilts. Season to taste and immediately tip the spinach into the sieve to drain
You can shallow- or deep-fry the crubbeens as preferred. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, cook them in the hot oil until they are crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper
  • vegetable oil
Carve the pork fillet into four pieces and place one on each hot serving plate. Add the pork belly and the pork cheeks. Place a fondant potato on each plate and top with a piece of crubbeens. Spoon the shallot and thyme purée alongside and add a portion of spinach. To finish, drizzle the plates with the braising juices from the pan of pork cheeks and serve

Showcasing quality ingredients from his native Wales, Bryan Webb cooks French-inflected dishes that champion simplicity and gutsy flavour.

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