Pork and Apricot Torpor

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

It looks like a lot of apricots. That’s because it is a lot of apricots. Don’t hold back.

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.

There is lots of fat in this pork belly. Fat = Flavour

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.

The pork is partly cooked when the apricots and garlic go in.

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.

I love getting an end piece as well as some of the really tender centre cut. Mmmmm…

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…

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Latest comments
  • This is right up my street! Tragically for me no-one else in my family will eat fruit with meat. Not even apple sauce. Insane or what? I swear I raised them properly! I think I need to divorce them. Or eat this all by myself……

    Would you be terribly offended if I cooked the pork sous vide first then adjusted the cooking times accordingly? If yes, then pretend I haven’t mentioned it.

    Mentioned what?

  • Elyss, I too love incorporating the magic of sous-vide wherever possible. Could you give details of time/temperature and how you would get the crackling to be crunchy? Many thanks. Peter Sharples

  • I think pork and apricots is a marriage made in heaven. I can only imagine how delectable those fruit are, basted in delicious garlicky pork fat and salt. And the pork looks perfect, with a wonderful crispy bark. No wonder this one kicked you into touch…

      • Excellent news, I’m looking forward to seeing what the colder weather inspires you to cook!

  • Ahhh pork belly. Be still my heart. Well, not literally. A beautiful dish.

  • Peter – I would normally SV pork belly at 56°C for a good length of time (12-24 hours, depending on thickness). This results in fairly pink meat which mitigates the later high oven temp. After SV, it’s an ice bath followed by a thorough drying and then overnight in the fridge, uncovered, with salt and baking soda rubbed into the skin. Next day, wipe off the salt and soda and whack in a ripping hour oven until the crackling crackles – and definitely no longer! Now I just need to figure out how to do the apricot part, but I think it will work out ok being put under the best from the start.

    • I do pork belly 48 hours at 57C or 24 hours at 74C.

  • *ripping HOT!

    (Your blog really needs an edit function, Conor! 😊 )

  • Don’t worry Elyss, I worked it out! Thank you for the method. I’ll soon be giving it a try.

  • A classic Conor recipe of pork with fruit! You know how I’d cook the pork.

      • For me it’s off-putting if pork is NOT pink in the center 😀

  • *smile* To me this is almost a retro dish as I remember many recipes marrying meat and fruit way back . . .So simple: dependant on best meat able to be bought and perfect fruit . . . and a lilltle understanding care. This will go into the kitchen file for when stone fruit again becomes available. Your crackling does look perfect . . .

  • Another fab dish Conor 😉

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