I don’t often do this. But, I’m not recommending that you cook this recipe. Don’t misconstrue me. It’s not a bad recipe. It’s a pretty tasty way to prepare pork. But, having sourced some prunes (I’m not at the stage of life where prunes are part of my regular diet) and after laying my hands on a slab of free range pork belly, I can’t really recommend it. But, where did it all go wrong?
Actually, it didn’t go wrong at all. It’s very easy to prepare and the end result is delicious. Let me tell you what I did then we can look at the lack of recommendation. The ingredients list is numerically short but long on complementary flavour.
- 2 kilo free range pork belly*
- 2 teaspoons of 5 spice powder
- Salt and pepper to season
- A small amount of oil
* I recommend free range pork because it is infinitely tastier than the meat of the unfortunate factory bred variety. There is no argument about this. In my experience, the skin of free range pork crisps up far better too. It makes sense to go free range.
First, pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin of the pork. This tightens the skin which helps with the crisping.
Crisping is really important. Pat the pork dry. Get a sharp knife and make holes in the flesh between the ribs. As gently as possibly, squeeze prunes into the gaps.
Next, cut long slashes into the flesh in the same direction as the ribs. Season it on all sides with plenty of salt and pepper. Then rub the 5 spice powder into the flesh.
The last thing to do before placing in the oven is to rub the skin side with a little oil.
Place the pork, on a rack, in a very hot oven (230ºC) for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down and roast it for a further 40 minutes at 200ºC.
Make a simple sauce by adding 200 ml of cider and ten or so prunes to a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Squash the prunes and reduce until thickened to gravy consistency. Put this through a sieve. It’s pretty tasty.
When the pork comes out of the oven, it will be dark (5 spice dark), crispy and it will smell delicious (concentrated prune sweetness delicious).
I served it with some creamed potatoes and mange tout. It was really, really tasty. The pork meat was tender and succulent, made sweet by the prunes. The crackling was as you would expect it to be. The sweet gravy was ideal and the whole thing worked perfectly. I’d almost recommend it…..
So what’s wrong with the pork and prunes?
Nothing. Nothing at all. It really is very tasty. I just feel that a good piece of pork belly is so delicious anyway that the marginal improvement of the extra expense (Have you seen the price of prunes!), and preparation (If you enjoy poking prunes into pork, then you have no place in a kitchen), is not worth the trouble.
In conclusion. Delicious, really delicious. But not delicious enough for me to really recommend you cook it. However, I don’t own you and you are probably capable of making your own decision. I won’t be upset if you do it.