“We often use this classic way of cooking pork belly at Cafe St Honoré. It’s simple: skin removed, boned out, seasoned, rolled, tied, braised, chilled, then cut and pan fried. The process creates a wonderful taste that’s not fatty, with the fennel seed and lemon helping to cut through the richness. Buttery champ is so good with the pork, and the addition of sage is classic, but optional.”
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 45 minutes; cooking time: 4 hours
750g rare-breed organic pork belly, skinned and boned
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 carrot, scrubbed and halved
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 stick celery, halved
A few sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
A few peppercorns
Zest of 1 lemon
Good salt and pepper
400g good mash made with lots of butter
3 or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
A small handful of sage leaves, gently shallow-fried until just crisp and dried on kitchen paper
2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
75g unsalted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Firstly, lay the pork belly out on a board and season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over half the fennel seeds and half the lemon zest. Roll the belly up like a swiss roll and tie with butchers twine, or string, but not too tight.
Next, place the pork in a pot and cover with hot water. Add the carrot, onion, celery, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the pot to the simmer then cover with a lid or foil and place into the oven for 3 to 4 hours until the meat is very tender.
Remove from the oven and allow the pork to cool in the liquid for about an hour or so, no rush. Once cooled, remove the pork from the liquid and drain on a tea towel to make sure it’s dry.
Then line your work surface with 4 layers of clingfilm about 6 inches wider than the belly and place the pork onto the cling film. Remove the string with scissors and discard, then roll the pork in the clingfilm very tightly and refrigerate overnight.
To cook, preheat the oven to 180°C, then cut 4 slices of pork about an inch or so thick, and fry in the rapeseed oil for 3 to 5 minutes each side. Then place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes to ensure the pork is hot and coloured. It should be a lovely golden colour.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pot, and add the remaining fennel seeds and lemon zest to it. Season.
Just before serving, add the chopped spring onions to the mash to make champ, and place some in the centre of each plate. Top with the sliced pork and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with crispy sage leaves. Serve at once.