Sunday, 15 April 2012

Roast Pork Belly and Fennel Seeds served with Poor Man’s Potatoes

The allotment looks somewhere near normal, well the most normal it has looked since I got it two years ago, by normal I mean tidy, a bit tidy, in parts... because that's what everyone else's looks like, tidy, weed free, organised. Apart from the odd one, which I look at in delight when they are worse than mine.

In the past few weeks I have been making a real effort though, this is the year that I am going to get on top of it, be organised and grow loads, that's what I'm telling myself anyway. I have surfaces covered in seed trays around the house, the peas have popped up along with the broad beans, and still to emerge are sweetcorn, sweetpeas, turks turbans, green courgettes and yellow courgettes. I've planted beetroot, parsnips and poppies at the allotment and have two types of potatoes chitting on the window cill. Chitting is a technical term for sprouting shoots... I now speak horticulture... The seed potatoes came from the garden centre in Gosforth Park, Pink Fir Apples, which are delicious apparently and Duke of York’s. All this makes me sound very organised, but if you could see the thousands of weeds and huge grass chunkers taking over my plot you really wouldn’t think it...

After two hours of hard work gardening this left over roast pork belly was totally delicious, even more delicious than last night perhaps. It is a Moro recipe, Cerdo al Horno, and is the best pork I've turned out so far I think, my previous method with herbs wine and water seems a poor comparison all of a sudden. This one is roasted without any liquid for three hours with fennel seeds, garlic and lots of salt; crispy, soft, salty and delicious... Served with Poor Man’s Potatoes, Patatas a lo Pobre, slow cooked potatoes in olive oil with sweet onions, garlic and green peppers. I didn’t want it to end...

Start by bashing 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar together with 2 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt. Rub this all over the flesh side of your piece of pork belly, not the skin, the other side. I used a piece of pork belly from the Grainger Market that weighed about 1kg and would feed four. Turn the meat over and sprinkle the skin side with salt, lots of it. Ask the butcher to score the skin for you and rub the salt into all the slashes. Leave it to sit for half an hour and pre heat the oven to 230°C.

After half an hour brush the excess salt off and dry off any water that has come to the surface, put the pork into a roasting tin greased with olive oil and put it in the oven on a high shelf for half an hour. Make sure the oven is really hot, as this will form the hard, crispy crackling. Then turn the oven down to 180°C and cook for another 2 ½ hours. When it is done remove from the oven, transfer it to a chopping board, cover with foil and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.

I tried to make a gravy with the pan juices, Moro say to put the roasting tin on the hob, deglaze with 150ml of white wine and scrape up any sticky bits into the sauce, it looked like real gravy, it tasted of burnt bits and aluminium, you may have better luck than me...

While the pork is cooking you can make the Poor Man's Potatoes, heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, then slowly cook 3 large thinly sliced onions with a pinch of salt until golden and sweet, about 30 minutes. Stir them now and again so they don't catch on the bottom of the pan. After 30 minutes add 5 cloves of garlic sliced thickly, 3 green peppers roughly chopped and 4 fresh bay leaves, continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Then cut about 750g of new potatoes into wedges, salt lightly and leave for 5 minutes.

When the pepper is softened add another 10 tablespoons of olive oil, wait for it to heat up and add the potatoes and let everything simmer in the oil until the potatoes are cooked. Moro said about 20 minutes, I found it to be more like 45 minutes... Stir now and again to stop it sticking and turn it up a bit towards the end if it needs to be a bit browner and stickier... Finally drain through a sieve or colander before serving to remove the olive oil, keep the oil though as it tastes delicious for bread dipping or making crispy onions...

Serve a slice of the crackly crispy pork, which is meltingly soft in the middle and crispy, salty and crunchy on the outside with a big pile of slow cooked potatoes, peppers and garlic. They go so well together and taste even better the next day, I'm pretty glad I made far too much...


  1. I've been looking for a Spanish inspired Sunday roast, this is perfect! Next weekend sorted!

  2. Glad you like, let me know how it turns out!

    Anna x

  3. That sounds absolutely amazing and mouthwatering!

  4. the name of the dish caught my eye, why's it called Poor Man's Potatoes? I'm only wondering because the dish looks really brilliant, not miserly or anything at all. love a good roast pork belly, can just hear the crackling on this one!

  5. Hi Shu, it an Andalusian dish called Patatas a lo Pobre, which roughly translates as poor man's potatoes, I think it is to do with the simplicity of ingredients and the one pot cooking that gives it its name!

    Anna x

  6. Absolutely making this on the weekend! Looks amaaaaazing.xx


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x