Smoked Belly of Pork with Creamed White Beans and Date Jam

We get this smoked pork belly from our excellent local craft butcher, Kevin McGovern, based in Belleek, Co. Fermanagh. It’s coal smoked and has a very similar taste to kassler, the German dish, which is traditionally served with sauerkraut. Use any leftover trimmings for pasta Carbonara. The braising juice can be used for a celeriac soup or can be frozen.

Ingredients


  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 star anise
  • 900 g (2lb) smoked pork belly, boned but with skin on and scored
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 600 ml (1 pint) freshly pressed apple juice
  • 450 g (1lb) creamed white beans
  • date jam, to serve
  • sweet potato purée, to serve
  • 2 pieces of crisp parma ham
  • fresh micro salad, to garnish

Creamed white beans
  • 175 g (6oz) dried haricot beans
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 streaky bacon rashers, cooked and finely diced
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) cream
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tblsp snipped fresh chives
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Date jam (makes 1lb)
  • 50 g (2oz) granulated sugar
  • 450 g (1lb) medjool dates
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar
  • 2 tblsp crème de cassis
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Celeriac purée (makes 650g)
  • 550 g (1lb 4oz) celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) cream
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable stock
  • 20 g (3/4oz) butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Arrange the vegetables in a raised bed in the middle of a large, deep roasting tin. Tuck in the garlic, thyme and star anise and lay the pork belly on top. Season generously. Pour in the apple juice and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the tin, then cover tightly with foil.
  2. Roast the smoked pork belly for 4–5 hours – you’ll know the pork is cooked when the flesh is just coming away. You may need to top up the water a little during this time, as you must be careful that it doesn’t dry out.
  3. Remove the pork carefully from the braising juices (reserve to use as a stock for soup). Place the cooked pork on a baking sheet lined with clingfilm, then place another baking sheet on top with cans on top to weigh it down. This will give the pork a firm, even shape. Allow to cool in the fridge overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Slice the pork into eight 5cm x 3.5cm (2in x 11/2in) rectangles and arrange on a large baking sheet. Place in the oven for 5 minutes or crisp under a hot grill. You can also pan-fry the rectangles in a little rapeseed oil for 2–3 minutes on each side, until crisp around the edges and golden brown.
  5. To serve, spoon the creamed white beans into the centre of each warmed plate and place 2 pieces of crispy pork belly on top. Dot around some of the date jam, followed by smears of the sweet potato purée. Break the Parma ham into small pieces and use to garnish the date jam, then scatter around with the micro salad.
Haricot beans
  1. Soak the haricot beans overnight in a large bowl of cold water. Drain and place in a very large pan and cover with fresh water and add the thyme.
  2. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for 45–50 minutes, until the beans are just cooked and tender but still holding their shape. Refresh under cold running water and store in the fridge until needed.
  3. Preheat the grill and cook the bacon until golden and sizzling on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper, then finely chop.
  4. Place the cream in a pan and bring to the boil, then add the cooked bacon, parsley, chives and cooked haricot beans – you should have about 450g (1lb) in total. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to warm through. Season to taste and use as required.
Date jam
  1. Place 300ml (1/2 pint) of water and the sugar in a heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the dates are completely soft.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar, crème de cassis and vinegar, then blend in a food processor for 5 minutes, until smooth. Transfer to a squeezy bottle and use as required.
For the purée
  1. Place the celeriac in a pan with the cream and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes, until the celeriac is completely soft.
  2. Once the celeriac is cooked, place the mixture into a Thermomix or blender and blitz until smooth. Add the butter and blitz again for 5–7 minutes. Season to taste and use as required.
  3. Variation: replace the celeriac with sweet potato and use same method.

Notes:

The smoked pork belly needs to be cooked at least 24 hours in advance, but up to 3 days is fine. It can also be frozen. Try a smoky Pinotage from South Africa or a Syrah wine from the south of France with this dish.





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