Our seasonal recipe for twice-cooked pork belly with Madeira just comes courtesy of Gavin Billenness, head chef at the Savoy Truffle Supperclub in London.
● 1kg pork belly
● 1 leek
● 1 large onion
● 2 carrots
● 3 sticks of celery
● 100ml cheap balsamic vinegar
● 2tbs fennel seeds
● 2tbs Maldon sea salt
● 500ml good quality cider
● 1 litre good brown chicken/beef stock
● 100ml Madeira
Pre-heat oven to 150°C. Roughly chop the veg, place in a deep roasting tray and pour over the cider and the balsamic vinegar.
If the ribs are still attached to the belly, remove them carefully with a sharp knife, then put to one side. Crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar with the sea salt. With a Stanley knife score the skin in a criss-cross fashion, about 1cm apart. Place the ribs on top of the veg and the belly on top of the ribs.
Pour boiling water over the belly so the scores open. Continue pouring the boiling water over until it’s 1cm below the skin in the roasting tray. Take the fennel seeds and salt and rub well into the skin. Cover the tray with foil, leaving no gaps, and cook in the oven for five hours, topping up with water if necessary. Remove the foil and cook for a further hour or until the skin is hard enough to ‘knock’. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then lift off the belly and discard the veg and bones.
Put the belly in a fresh roasting tray and place another tray on top, containing substantial weight (I use loads of books) and press the pork – ideally overnight. This forces out the excess fat. When the belly is pressed, portion it with a bread knife into 8cm squares and refrigerate.
Make the Madeira jus by reducing the stock and the Madeira by half and seasoning well. Adjust the flavour with honey if necessary. Keep warm.
Place the portions of pork belly in a roasting tray with an inch of good meat stock (to keep the meat moist) and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes on 180°C. To finish place the pork under the grill until the skin ‘popcorns’ – perfect crackling! Keep an eye on it though, and don’t let it burn.
Serve on buttery mash or dauphinoise potatoes with the jus and veg of your choice. I also like to add a dollop of my homemade fig and bramley apple chutney on top.
Gavin Billenness, head chef, Savoy Truffle Supperclub, London