Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mexican pork belly

I wish this was something that I'd come up with, but in fact this episode of Recipe Rifle comes to you from the letter E, the numbers 5 and 7 and James Ramsden, the food blogger and ACTUAL TRAINED COOK  who contacted me keen to do a recipe swapsie. I gave him a recipe for a baked potato and he didn't laugh!! I don't know what to make of that. Find him at www.jamesramsden.wordpress.com

Anyway, here is his extremely exciting-looking pork belly thing that I would make if only I knew how one skins a hazelnut.

Take it away Jim:

Mexican pork belly with coriander and hazelnut salsa

The problem with the cheap cuts - beef shin, lamb shoulder, pork belly - is that they are imbued with a sense of winter. These gastropub staples seem good only for slow-cooked and sticky stews, broodingly dark braises, and melting roasts. Give a cook any one of these cheap cuts and their reflex will be to start prepping a mirepoix, setting the oven to 170C and scratching around for the half-drunk bottle of last night's plonk.

It's unsurprising that this is the case. These cuts are fatty, and in winter we want - we need - fat. By summer we've had just about enough of rich food and root veg and we yearn for grub that pings and hums with herbs and citrus and chilli. But this shouldn't mean these cuts are redundant all of a sudden. Lamb shoulder, diced and marinated with yoghurt, cumin, chilli, mint, garlic and lemon makes perfect kebabs for barbecuing. Ox cheek, braised sympathetically in bourbon and shredded with herbs and spices becomes a breast-beatingly epic filling for enchiladas.

This pork belly is a crowd pleaser in the way that watching Jordan get mauled by a panda would be a crowd pleaser. Aside from the skinning and boning of the belly (which you could ask the butcher to do) it requires little effort on your part. I did it for 20 people which a whole belly (6-7kg) will serve easily. If going the whole hog then up the cooking time to 3 hours.

Serves 4

1.5 kg piece of pork belly, skin and ribs removed
A bunch of coriander, finely chopped
Zest of half a lime
Zest of half a lemon
Olive oil and pepper

For the salsa

A bunch of coriander
Juice of a lime
A red chilli
1 clove garlic
A small handful of skinned hazelnuts
Olive oil, salt, pepper

Mix together the coriander, lime and lemon zests and olive oil. Rub over the pork belly, season with pepper, and leave overnight.

To make the salsa/pesto, blend the coriander, lime juice, chilli and hazelnuts until smooth, pouring in olive oil as you go until you've got the right consistency. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove the pork from the fridge a good hour before cooking and preheat the oven to 180C. Season generously with sea salt and roast the pork for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and rest for 20 minutes. Alternatively roast for 1 1/2 hours before finishing on the barbecue for 30 minutes. Serve with the salsa and a salad.


  1. "This pork belly is a crowd pleaser in the way that watching Jordan get mauled by a panda would be a crowd pleaser": ROFL (and now hungry). Brilliant!

  2. You'd almost not spot that I took the photo a day after the thing was cooked...

    To skin a hazelnut - whack 'em in the oven at 200C for 5 minutes. The skins will slip right off. Otherwise I'm pretty sure you can buy skinned hazelnuts.

  3. Okay, that sounds and looks to die for.
    James has jumped in my esteem. That being said, I am not breaking up with you for him. He is not nearly as funny as you are.
    How do we get the tips on this baked potato?

  4. Tony you are SUCH A CREEP but I'll let it go as you aren't well. You can find my hilariously shite contribution to James' really quite serious food blog at jamesramsden.wordpress.com

  5. "really quite serious food blog"?!

    I'm offended in the extreme. Bloody outraged in fact.

    Oh, for the record that first comment isn't me. Promise.

  6. O you know how I like to cultivate a rakish air...


  8. Florence? Why are you logging in as anonymous?

  9. I don't even eat meat, but that really does look amazing.
    Almost enough to make me question my moral standing of the past 10 years..

  10. I'd like everyone to note that no-one has ever said anything like that about what I've cooked. This is why I don't do guest posts anymore. James you are fired.

  11. oh, now I feel bad!
    maybe it's just the lighting on that particular piece of meat. It's the photograph more than the food I promise.
    I would say your coffee and walnut cake makes me want to break my cake ban, but i've never had one of those..

  12. Don't feel bad! It was just an excuse for me to bully James.

    I will try to do more vegetarian food with you in mind. I don't do enough.