Sunday, 28 March 2010

Pork belly, and a very British competition…

Slow roast pork belly from Canteen: Great British Food Slow roast pork belly from Canteen: Great British Food

You could be forgiven for thinking that the clocks haven’t just gone forward an hour, but leapt, galloped, sprinted forward several months, given today’s rather autumnal offering of roast belly pork with apples and red cabbage.

But it was a chilly, overcast sort of day on Friday and I had lots of work to catch up on, so that most forgiving, delicious and inexpensive of cuts, pork belly, ticked all kinds of boxes for our supper for six that evening.

I’d been sent Great British Food, the first (and, I sincerely hope, not last) cookbook by Cass Titcombe, Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone, the trio behind the four Canteen restaurants dotted around London serving classic British dishes such as steak and kidney pie, Lancashire hotpot and apple brandy syllabub to the gratefully, nostalgically nourished masses. Their Slow-roast pork belly with apples was calling my name…

My grease stained copy I’ve already managed to get a grease spot on the spine.
It’s love, see.

Lots of lovely pictures too It’s filled with impossible-to-resist deliciousness.

I love this book. I’m going to cook from it a lot. It will become spattered, battered, creased and stained in the Licked Spoon kitchen. Pencil marks will blemish its artfully designed pages. I like the feel of it in my hands, with its brown cover and reassuringly sturdy typeface. Inside are 120 recipes for everything from spicy mutton pie, bubble and squeak, devils on horseback and coronation chicken to steamed syrup pudding, marmalade and piccalilli. I have no doubt it will become a modern classic. So… drum roll… I want to share it. If this is your kind of food, I have an extra copy to give away. Leave a comment below about what your favourite British dish is and why and I’ll announce my favourite response here next Saturday, 3 April.*

We had a lively dinner. Howard brought white roses and French cheeses, Lady de B  brought two kinds of chilly treat, home made mango ice cream and mango and lime sorbet, Victoria and Helder brought delicious wine and even more delicious gossip. I can’t think of a better way to launch a weekend.

* If you register a profile before leaving your comment, this will make it easier for me to get in touch with you, but it’s not essential. Just check in next Saturday to discover the winner, and I’ll work out a way of getting it to you if you’re the lucky person. This competition is open to readers outside of the UK too, so get commenting!

Slow roast pork belly with apples

The recipe calls for pork belly on the bone, but my pork shopper in chief, Séan, came back from the butcher with a boned piece. It worked really well too.

Slow roast pork belly with apples

Serves 6-8.

1 piece of pork belly, weighing about 2.5kg (on the bone)
1 tsp ground fennel
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves
20g fresh sage leaves
500ml dry cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Cox’s apples
50g butter
Ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 150˚C/300˚F/Gas mark 2. With a sharp knife, score the belly across the skin at 2cm intervals (or get the butcher to do it for you). Season the meaty side of the belly with the ground fennel, 1 tsp salt and some black pepper.

Fennel Fennel, in the mortar

Sage & garlic Sage and garlic

Yum, seasoned pork Seasoned pork, how could it not be delicious?

Bash the unpeeled garlic cloves and place them in a metal roasting tin with the sage. Set the pork belly on top. Pour over the cider and sprinkle the surface of the belly with 1 tsp of salt. Cover tightly with foil and roast for two hours. Remove from the oven and turn the oven up to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6.

Drain the liquid out of the tin into a pan. Put the pork belly back into the tin and return to the oven, uncovered, and roast for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour until the skin is crisp. If I doesn’t become crisp enough, remove the pork from the oven, cut off the skin and put it back into the oven to continue cooking until it resembles proper crackling. Meanwhile, cover the pork and keep it warm.

Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Cut them in half and remove the cores. Butter a metal baking tray and place the apples in it cut-side down. Dab a little butter on top of each and sprinkle with a little allspice Put in the oven with the pork and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the pork belly to a carving board, placing it fat-side down. Slide a knife under the rib bones and cut them off, keeping the knife against the bone. Set aside the meat and bones in a warm place.

Skim off any fat from the cooking liquid, then bring to the boil.

Cut the pork into thick slices and serve with the baked apples, the cooking juices and the ribs.


  1. Gorgeousness. I love everything about that Canteen cookbook - the rationbook-esque cover and the really camp 70s retro photography inside. Destined to become a classic. I'd enter your most excellent contest but
    a) I already have a copy (shout out to Ed and Caroline at Ebury)
    b)That might get us accused of all sorts of TV phone-in style naughtiness.

    Whoever does win, enjoy.

  2. omelette arnold bennett followed by summer pudding. could eat it every day

    i know u cant let me have it tho, so i'll get it myself *walks off limping*

  3. Roast chicken, with salty, crispy skin and some crunchy roast potatoes alongside...

    I'm so pleased Mark D pointed out your blog, so many lovely things here!

  4. I adore Roast beef and yorkshire pudding. Divine :)

    this pork looks delish, belly is such a tasty cut. This looks a great book.

  5. This looks like my kind of cookbook!

    I think my favourite British dish would be either chicken & ham hock pie (with proper, buttery, puff pastry) or a sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream on top.

    Luckily as they are different courses I can have both and not have to choose!

  6. I don't have a favorite british dish..perhaps this book will allow me to find one? LoL

    P and I are in sunny florida visiting Marc. had the most incredible shrimp tacos today-you must visit once we're settled and we will get deliriously sick from eating seafood or fish every day...and drinking lots of soothing adult beverages

  7. Yorkshire puddings and gravy. There's nothing better.

  8. I love slow roasted plate of beef - marinaded overnight - then roasted for 5 or 6 hours... huge pieces of beautifully juicy and tasty meat on the bone. For a cheap cut it has an incredible wow factor when you bring it out. The fat renders down making it the most succulent beef ever. The gravy is spectacular and with goose fat roasted potatoes... well, you could just whimper with joy!

  9. This looks like my kind of cookbook. My favourite British dish is shepherds pie as it is the ultimate comfort food in my opinion as it wraps you up in a big warm blanket, in a foodie kind of sense. :-)

  10. Salty - Yes, yes, Phil'n'Fern never did recover from that. We'll have to think of some other kind of naughtiness to get up to instead.
    MarkyD - Yes, you can splash out on your own copy with the supersoaraway advance on your book. Do. You'll love it. I'm lovin' your menu though.
    Mel, Lucie, Jenny, Darby, Jo, Wendy - Loving your ideas. Drooling a bit. Embarassing.
    Marty - That sounds like a little bit of heaven. I'll come and make very British seafood and very (large (British) cocktails in the sunshine. Lots of love to you lot.
    Keep 'em coming....

  11. Being a Cornish girl I have to say a proper Cornish Pasty or beer battered fish and chunky chips

  12. Fave british dish? What springs to mind is Anglesey Eggs, first learned from Jane Grigson's English Food. It's perfect winter comfort food: mashed potatoes flecked with buttery leeks, a couple of hard boiled eggs all topped with a cheesey sauce. My idea of an inner duvet.
    Great review, Debora but my heart sinks slightly as it's yet another cookery book I want...

  13. Thats a great looking book, I think that my favourite british dish has to be Roast Beef, with Yorkshire Pudding, all the trimmings and caremalised red onion gravy.

  14. Bread and butter pudding and syrup steamed pudding are my favourite British puddings.
    This is a great book to have as a giveaway.

  15. This sounds a great prize, thanks for the chance to win. My favourite would probably be steak pie served with buttery mash and perfectly cooked cabbage (also slathered in butter with lots of pepper). This should be traditionally (in Scotland) followed by Trifle, made with madiera cake, raspberries, real custard and cream, not a whiff of jelly in sight!

  16. You're right, it's hardly Spring-like at the moment!

    I'm a big fan of Brit cooking - it's my favourite cuisine (perhaps I love it so much as it's had a bad press and is sometimes seen as the underdog...)

    Anyway, my #1 Brit dish has to be fish and chips.

    Creamy, light, white fish (the cod I ate in the past would be sublime but I'd be very happy with pollack these days), crispy shards of golden batter, a mound of malt vinegar-drenched and salt sprinkled chunky chips (with an invitingly fluffy middle...).

    All devoured straight from their newspaper wrapping while sitting on a sea wall being buffetted by the North Sea...

    British food bliss.

  17. I found your blog by chance and am so glad I did. We, my family, love pork belly and your recipe is perfect for our use. As to cookbooks, I'm embarrassed to let outsiders see the condition they are in :-). Mine are well-used and well-loved. Have a wonderful day. Mary

  18. Aha, my favourite British dish also doubles up as my 'death row' meal.

    It has 3 simple ingredients.

    Cromer crab (I may be biased as a Norfolk gal' but I have genuinely never tasted a better crab anywhere in the world)
    Granary thick sliced bread
    Lightly salted butter

    Not a sandwich (too bready) but a liberally spread mixture of brown and white fresh crabmeat on a thick slice of buttered bread.

    No poncey lobster for me. Yum Yum!

  19. Well, I'm excusing myself from this contest, as my favorite English dish is Alan Rickman, and I don't think that counts.

    Love, Karen Marline, the Reliably Impish

  20. PS--Actually, my favorite English FOOD of all times is the poached egg you made me. But I'm not sure it's all that English, is it? Anyway, you're a peach to offer up your copy. See what a little brisk, friendly competition will do to your blog? Unbridled enthusiasm!

    Lanky Yankee Karen

  21. Beth, Fran, Andy, Margaret, Janice, Alex and Michelle - So many mouthwatering suggestions, thanks so much for making my choice such a difficult one!
    Mary - Thank you so much for visiting, always a delight to encounter another pork belly fan. And as for the state of your cookbooks, well a pristine cookbook is a very sad thing indeed, unlovely and unloved. Some of mine are horror stories, with broken spines and grubby pages but so many lovely dishes and happy memories have come from their pages.
    Karen - Alan Rickman always counts. You should know that. And as for the poached eggs, I think they're a dish almost sans frontiers...

  22. I have been giving this one some thought - well a lot of thought actually, as it is a very tough question - just one favourite? Then I decided - a roast rib of beef, yorkshire pudding (or two), fresh horseradish sauce (preferably from the garden), roast potatoes, mashed swede (lots of butter and a sprinkle of nutmeg), cabbage (cooked in butter and lemon juice) and gravy. This would mean a lovely sunday lunch, followed by dripping on toast for Sunday tea, maybe with a cheeky slice of beef,and then bubble and squeak with cold beef and reheated gravy on Monday and then beef stock from the bones. Then the dog gets a midweek treat. Does that count as one favourite?

  23. I can't believe it "twin". Only recently I was contemplating on doing the exact same thing with one of my favourite cookbooks. I recently purchased two copies after seeing them on a really good sale. And then I thought, now what? Debora, you beat me to it. Sooooooo funny. Two things: terrific post and your pics are really good, I love the shot of the cookbook cover. Cracking recipe too. Secondly, as your blogging sister, I am ineligible to enter. Good luck to the winner, but the real winners are those that have discovered your blog! Mariana xxx

  24. Good fun! I must admit to knowing little to nothing about British food, but that's why I visit you.

  25. Oh Kath, love your description.
    Mariana, Hey lovely lady, you are too, too kind. How funny you just had a similar idea - go on, do it! I've so enjoyed seeing all of the delicious descriptions of everyone's favourite dish.
    Denise, And I'm so delighted that you do.

  26. Dear D
    As your Mum I am ineligible for your prize (good notion, a prize!) If I did win this beautiful book I would probably, as you know, use it to keep a wonky chair straight. But if I were eligible I would offer that lovely creamy lettuce soup that you made me when you were thirteen and I was rather ill. But only if you made it..
    Love always

  27. Laetitia Maklouf31 March 2010 at 09:10

    Pork belly was all I would eat when I was pregnant - the baby has literally been raised on it...utterly yum...
    my other favourite is marmite on toast...not really a DISH, but pretty much unsurpassable when it comes to quick-fix deliciousness...but if i can't have that, then it's got to be treacle pudding (of course).
    love and adore your blog..i too am so glad @MarkDoc pointed you out

  28. Mummy - You really make me smile. Shall we do lettuce soup redux when S and I come home in 10 days' time? I am your living, breathing cook book - you don't need to win one. I'll even do the shopping too. Can't wait to see you. Big love, Dxx

    Laetitia - And what a lucky baby! It's the food of champions, I tell you. Loving your choices, and very touched by your charming comments. So pleased MarkD 'introduced' us. Y'see he has his uses. Not just a pretty trowel.

    Love, Dx

  29. During a much misspent youth I spent a year of my life living in a south Asian jungle, eating nothing but rice and lentils (and the odd banana-snake surprise), I have therefore had plenty of time to consider my favourite British dish.

    On one occasion when I was confined to my bunk for three days with a malarial fever I was so out of it that I was convinced I was a sausage sandwich (Cumberland sausage with onion gravy on doorsteps of white bread to be exact). I remember being terrified that someone would come along and bite my head off because I was so tasty. I think it had something to do with being semi-conscious but paralysed and trapped under a mosquito net whilst lying on a thin mattress stuffed with straw and drenched in sweat.

    Thinking about food was the only thing that got me through some days, particularly in the monsoon which can be maddeningly oppressive. I would plan exhaustive banquets in minute and almost pornographic detail on my long walk to work each morning. These Beano-esque feasts would usually start with kids party food; like egg and cress sandwiches and sausage rolls, detour for a course of discontinued sweetshop favourites like mint cracknel and Texan bars, get back on track with my Gran’s special of tinned salmon and homemade parsley sauce, or fish and chips eaten with a little wooden fork on the beach. However, they would always end the same way, and by the time I go back to Britain I new exactly what I wanted to eat more than anything else. The meal that, the very thought of which had sustained me for months… Steak and kidney pie, the way my mother used to make it in a deep metal pie dish with a thick crust on top – they always looked like Desperate Dan’s cow pies. This had to be served with lashings of extra gravy, peas straight from the garden and Jersey potatoes with butter and mint. This would be followed by wild/alpine strawberries picked from my Gran’s garden covered in tinned condensed milk and sugar on top. That’s what I’d ask for on the eve of my execution.

  30. Alex,

    I LOVE this. Love it. Hope you don't have to get to the eve of your execution to enjoy this feast again. Besides, I believe a Big Mac with double fries, a diet Doctor Pepper and a pack of Lucky Strikes is traditional on such ocassions.

    You have set the bar very high....


  31. I always loved the fact that it’s a ‘diet’ Doctor Pepper. I gave up smoking many years ago and never liked Luckies that much. To top off the last meal though for me it would have to be Ducados with their ‘Spanish Binman’ aftertaste or the even rougher Colombian Pieles Rojas (Redskins - they used to have the same picture that the old lucky bags used to have on the side, not sure if they still do)because, lets face it, I'll have nothing to loose at this point. And if I am going to have one last cigarette then it has to come with a double espresso and a shot of grappa (Nardini Grappa Bianca) on the side. I am hoping the end will come at the hands of some dodgy Latin American Bond villian with enough style to have a well stocked cellar - otherwise I am stuffed.

  32. Give it to him, for God's sake! Anyone who hallucenates about being a sausage is CLEARLY someone who deserves a cookbook. That way he can find other, even more entertaining things to imagine himself as...(the gods of syntax will be after me for that one...)
    Love, Karen Marline, who never died for sausage but nearly died OF it one scary carnival afternoon

  33. Alex, Thanks for making me laugh as thunder and lightning lit up the north London sky. Yes, it'll be a diet Doctor Pepper and low tar Luckies. You never know, there may be a last-minute reprieve in the tradition of all the best (worst?) made-for-TV movies. You know, I once had lunch with Signor Nardini. I think he is just about the most well-groomed man I've ever met, and that's even taking into account that the tasting of an extensive selection of grappas beforehand might have dulled my judgment slightly.
    Karen - Add a clown to that scenario and you've got the makings of a really good nightmare.

  34. Oooof, I'm all about the toad in the hole with creamy mustard mash and lashings of onion gravy! Oh, I'm slavering!

    Katie xox

  35. Thank you all so, so much for your delicious comments. I really enjoyed reading them. You can find out who won here


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