… last night I was honoured to host the Lincolnshire Life Magazine, Taste of Excellence Food and Drink Awards, held at the lovely Oaklands Hall Hotel, here in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The awards, which are in their 19th year, celebrate the food produced in this great county and honour the chefs, makers and proprietors who love this food and who have created businesses based on their passion for it. Whilst i’ve done plenty of cookery demo’s and of course I love the sound of my own voice, i’ve never actually done anything quite like this before and so I was quite nervous… I guess the fact that I was also standing in front of a room full of nearly 200 people who I have the utmost respect for also made it all a little more daunting but once I downed a swift strong one I delivered an amusing little introduction, which seemed to raise a titter from a table or two so I think it all went quite well. It’s so funny how intensely focussed I became prior to the moment itself and then once I was up there chatting away, it all felt perfectly normal, like I was in a room full of friends and family.
Awards dinners can be quite lengthy and stuffy affairs but last night was a really fun evening, full of atmosphere and very jolly people… the food was outstanding, quite how chef Steven Bennet managed to deliver such an incredible quality of food to the tables without a single grumble I will never know but i’m just glad I could sit and enjoy the meal and celebrate the best bit of living in Lincolnshire… the food!
ginger roast Lincolnshire pork belly
of course the pork belly doesn’t have to come from Lincolnshire but if you have a wonderful local farmer who will deliver free-range, organic, home-reared meat products to your door then feel free to use them… this pork belly comes from the lovely Jo and Fred who run a small-holding called Claythorpe Livestock, who i’ve championed before on this blog and it really is very good quality meat. As you know, I don’t eat or cook a huge amount of meat but when I do I like to ensure that it’s the best quality meat I can find, preferably locally sourced and it doesn’t get more local that the stuff roaming around in the fields outside my window… This recipe is unbelievably simple but will produce a guaranteed outstanding crackling, which is what we’re all about right?
serves 2 to 4 depending on how much of a fat bastard you are…
1 800g piece of pork belly -well scored (you need a really sharp knife to do this so if you can ask your butcher to do it then you’re winning)
3 tablespoons sea salt flakes
1 large piece of fresh ginger – at least 4 inches long – peeled and cut into smaller chunks
5 or 6 medium roasting potatoes – peeled and chopped
2 large carrots – peeled and chopped
a large sprig of fresh thyme
1 large glass of white wine
pre-heat your oven to 220C if it goes that high
ensure the pork belly skin is very dry – I do this by patting it with a couple of sheets of absorbent paper towels and then leaving them on top for 15 minutes but I have heard tell of people using a hair-dryer, which i’m not adverse to.
place the salt into bowl and add half the fresh thyme leaves and stir together
place the veg, ginger and remaining thyme into a large roasting tin and lay your pork belly on top and then rub the salt/thyme mix into the skin, leaving a thick crust of salt on top. Place the dish into the hot oven for an hour.
remove from the oven and spoon off the salt… the potatoes and carrots will have turned very black but this is fine, they’re not really there for the eating although I do love them like this. I remove them at this stage but you can keep them in the tray for the remainder of the cooking time if you want.
sprinkle a teeny bit of salt over the pork belly and then pour in the wine around the meat being careful not to touch the skin and place the whole dish back in the oven, reduce the heat to 150C and cook for another hour… remember to set aside for 15 minutes or so before serving, which gives you enough time to steam some vegetables should you feel that way inclined
i’m linking this divine pork belly to shop local hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary which encourages us to buy from local shops and producers
eat and of course, enjoy!