ROSAMUND’S MIDDLE WHITE PORK BELLY WITH FENNEL AND LEMON AND HERB RICE
Please click on the image to see enlarged version of the finished recipe.
- 1 Middle White Pork belly boned and rolled – it will weigh about 1.25kg
- 2 large bulbes Florence fennel
- 150 ml inexpensive dry white wine
- 1 sherry glass of Pernod (or similar aniseed flavoured tincture)
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 1 zest of lemon
- 1 sprig of thyme
- A couple of bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 250 g basmati or other good quality long grain rice
- Good bunch each of parsley, tarragon and chives
- 2 knobs unsalted butter
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ – you need it nice and hot for the crackling.
- Dry the pork, particularly the skin, thoroughly with kitchen paper. This is very important – our Middle Whites produce wonderful crackling but the skin needs to be really dry for best results. Slather on the oil and sprinkle on plenty of sea salt. Put into a hot oven.
- Remove any fronds from the fennel bulbs and cut into quarters. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Remove the zest from the lemons with a potato peeler and squeeze the juice from one of them.
- Check the meat after 15 minutes – it will have begun to turn gold and harden but you may need to turn it to so that it browns evenly. After it has been in the oven for a total of 20-25 minutes and it nicely burnished, remove it from the oven and take the meat out of the roasting tin. Tip off the surplus fat (keep it in a jar in the fridge – it makes wonderful roast potatoes).
- Put the roasting pan on the hob and tip in the Pernod and wine, allowing them to bubble up, and scraping up any crispy residue. Put the pork (and any juice that has come out of it) back into the pan and tuck the fennel quarters in around it. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, lemon juice and season.
- Reduce the heat of the oven slightly (to about 200℃) and cook for a further 40 minutes or until the pork juices just run clear – Middle White pork is best served lightly cooked.
- Remove the pork and dish the fennel round it. Some fresh thyme and bay leaves are a nice touch for serving. Taste the juice in the pan and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Bring it to the boil and either serve in the meat dish or separately.
Lemon and Herb Rice
- Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash the rice well in a sieve under cold running water to remove as much of the starch as possible. When the water is boiling hard, tip in the rice and bring back to the boil. Cook for 11 minutes from that point.
- Meanwhile snip the chives into small pieces, remove the leaves from the tarragon and chop it and the parsley together. Take a small knob of butter and thoroughly butter a pudding basin or similar.
- When the rice is cooked, tip it into sieve and tip a kettleful of boiling water through it. Drain and tip the rice back into the warm pan and add a walnut sized knob of butter, the herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Pack the rice quite tightly into the buttered pudding basin and put it into a warm oven for a minute or two – just enough to melt the butter but no longer or the nice fresh taste (and colour) of the herbs will be lost. Invert the pudding basin onto a suitable sized plate and give a gentle shake to turn the rice out like a sand castle. This last step adds absolutely nothing to the taste so you can omit it if you think it is too much hassle – but it does look nice!