The more I mull introspection the more I see it as an interesting phenomenon. A couple of weeks ago, I prepared Asian Style Pork Belly With Orange Sauce. I was, and still am, delighted with the dish. I ran into difficulties while thinking about writing about it. The big problem is that it’s just too easy to prepare and many people might say “That looks simple, let’s not bother.” That would be a mistake. So, for the past couple of weeks, I have wondering about how to present it. Introspective musing took over. It finally shifted this morning as I looked at a display of lovely Navel oranges in a Dublin fruit and vegetable shop. They were the same Navel oranges as I used in my sauce.
That unblocked my thinking. I got my writing idea as I was quite literally “Navel gazing”.
- 1.2kg piece of free range, rare breed pork belly
- 6 Navel oranges (ignore the fact that there are only 2 in the picture
- 2 teaspoons of five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of granulated brown sugar
- 2 to 3 star anise
As befits a navel gazer, there is very little to this recipe. Please don’t allow that to put you off trying it. I highly recommend it. The first thing to do is pour a kettle full of boiling water over the skin of the pork. This will tighten the skin and help with the crisping process. Pat the meat dry. Slice through the skin and layer of fat to create a nice diamond pattern. rub the meat all over with five spice, salt and pepper. Place the meat on a rack and pop it into the fridge for an hour or two.
Give the skin a rub with a little cooking oil. Place the joint, on a rack, into a very hot oven (220ºC/430ºF fan). Let it roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180ºC/ 360ºF, no fan. Leave it to do its thing for a further 40 minutes. This should give a perfect result with tender layered meat and fat topped with a crispy spiced, salty skin.
The sauce is a doddle to do and can be completed in the time the meat is in the oven. Pour the sugar into a saucepan.
Squeeze the oranges into the same pot. Ignore any pips that get in there as they will get sieved out later. Add the star anise to the pot and place it on a medium heat. Bring it to a gentle boil and reduce by about two-thirds.
Sieve the sauce into another pot, ready for reheating and serving. I served this up on a bed of couscous seasoned with chilli, coriander, salt and pepper. It was easy and delicious.
If you find yourself getting all introspective and spend some time Navel gazing, buy the oranges and make this dish.