This happens to me every summer. Torpor gets the better of me. It’s not that I stop cooking. I just seem to get into a fug of incapacity. I find I can cook and I can photograph. But, I just can’t write. It takes a really special dish to give me that mental kick in the apricots to force a bit of writing. This combination of free range pork belly and apricots is such a dish.
I cooked it a couple of weeks ago. The apricots were nice and ripe. I find that ripe apricots cook to a beautiful bittersweet flavour that is a perfect foil for the salty, fatty, crunchy, tender pork.
- 800 gram piece of pork belly
- 10 or so ripe apricots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- Ample sea salt and black pepper
- A tablespoon of cooking oil
Side note on ingredients: I am tempted to say nothing for fear of being accused of being a raging food snob. But, I am obliged to say the following: If you can’t or won’t pay for top quality, free range, pork belly, don’t bother trying to cook this dish. Poor quality pork just won’t do it.
Heat the oven to 220°C. Half and stone the apricots. Remove the bones from the belly and carve through the skin and fat to give cutting guides and to make carving easy.
Rub the pork all over with salt and black pepper give the skin a wipe with the oil. Place the pork on a rack and roast it for twenty to twenty five minutes. Remove it from the oven. Remove the rack and build a deck for the pork with garlic and apricots. Place the pork on top and return it to the oven.
Turn down the temperature to a modest 180°C. Leave the pork to roast for 40 minutes. Use the available time to prepare some creamy mashed potatoes (I used a huge dollop of crème fraîche to add smoothness).
Take the pork out of the oven and let it rest for ten minutes. Avoid being lethargic as ten minutes will stretch to a few days. The apricot and garlic base can be returned to the cooking oven to keep warm. You could warm your plates there too.
Slice the pork using the crackling guides. Serve with the apricots and mash. This is a delightful combination with the power to lift my annual writers torpor. I really have to recommend you try it. Now, I’m going back into my languor for at least a week…