Meltingly tender pork belly accompanied by a creamy root veg puree and crispy croquettes - if you can't find wild garlic, use garlic cloves and spinach instead
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly crushed
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2kg British free-range pork belly
- Olive oil for rubbing
- Sea salt crystals
- 1 litre hot chicken stock (plus extra if needed – see step 2)
- For the root vegetable puree
- 50g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 800g root vegetables (such as carrots, celeriac and swede),
- peeled and evenly chopped
- 300ml milk
- 100ml double cream
- For the wild garlic croquettes
- 1.2kg floury potatoes (such as maris piper), cut into 5cm chunks
- 150g unsalted butter
- 2 medium free-range egg yolks
- 150g wild garlic leaves, finely chopped (see tip)
- 3 medium free-range eggs, whisked with 1 tbsp milk and a pinch of salt to make an egg wash
- Breadcrumbs to coat
- Vegetable oil to fry
- For the cider sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- Large pinch of brown sugar
- 100ml red wine
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 300ml dark chicken stock
- 100ml Herefordshire cider
- 50ml double cream
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Put the onions in a large baking tray with the garlic and thyme. Rub the pork skin with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Put on top of the onions and pour the chicken stock into the tray.
- 2. Roast for 3 hours until the meat is tender and the skin is crisp. If the stock starts to dry out, keep topping it up to stop the onions burning. If the skin isn’t crisp after the cooking time, increase the heat to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 6 for 10-15 minutes more. Remove and rest for 15 minutes.
- 3. Meanwhile make the purée. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add the onion and root veg, then cook, covered, until slightly soft. Add the milk and cream, bring to the boil, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the veg are cooked. Remove from the heat, then whizz in batches in a blender until smooth. Season and set aside.
- 4. For the croquettes, rinse the potato cubes in cold water, then put in a pan of salted cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for
- 15 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to dry for 5 minutes.
- 5. Put the potatoes in a pan on a medium heat. Add the butter, mash until smooth, then add the egg yolks and wild garlic (or see tip). Season well, Cool, then chill for 1 hour.
- 6. Shape with your hands into barrel-shaped croquettes. Dip ?into the egg, roll in breadcrumbs, then chill. Heat a good amount of oil (5-6cm deep) in a pan to 180°C (a cube of bread dropped in should brown in 30 seconds) and deep-fry the croquettes for 2-3 minutes until golden. If not serving right away, leave to cool, then reheat ?in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
- 7. For the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the shallots and garlic, stirring, for 2 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and cook for 7-10 minutes until caramelised. Add the red wine and thyme and reduce by half, then add the stock and cider and reduce for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the cream and butter, then season and strain.
- 8. To serve, reheat the purée on the hob and spoon it onto the plates. Cut the pork into portions and place on top of the mash. Add a couple of croquettes, pour over the cider sauce and serve with steamed tenderstem broccoli, or whatever green veg you fancy.
PER SERVING (BASED ON 6) 945kcals, 70.9g fat (32.8g saturated), 39.2g protein, 29.7g carbs (32.8g sugars), 1.5g salt, 5.2g fibre
For good crackling, chill the uncooked pork overnight, uncovered, to dry the skin.
If you have croquette mix left over, use it for bubble and squeak. Or make extra croquettes and freeze them – but if doing so, steam the potatoes as it gives the croquettes a better texture.
Can’t find wild garlic? Use 150g spinach and 2 crushed garlic cloves.
Red wine works better than cider with the cream in this dish – a juicy, balanced Chilean pinot noir tops the wish list.