a long boozy sunday lunch

slow roasted pork belly with baked apple & onion

There are few things more pleasurable than waking up on a Sunday morning. Those first few moments when you realize that there’s not going to be any alarm, taking a quick peek at the world outside and then rolling over, snuggling up and drifting back to sleep. Sunday mornings are definitely in contention for my favourite time of the week. But waking up on a Sunday morning knowing that the only thing you really need to do today is have lunch? Golden.

A few weeks ago I had a call from my good winemaker-come-wine-merchant mate Tobes. We got chatting, as is often the case when Toby and I catch up, about wine and food and good bottles and meals we’d had recently when Tobes came up with a brilliant idea. Why not combine forces and get a heap of people together for a meal. Tobes would look after the wine and I’d do the food. A cunning plan was hatching.

After a visit to the boys at Ultimo wine center, Tobes was inspired to go with obscure grape varieties as our theme for lunch. From the slightly familiar Gruner Veltliner, to Roussane, to Verduzzo to something no one had ever heard of: Lacryma Christi a red Italian variety that if the label is to be believed grew near Naples where Christ’s tears fell at some stage. Add in some treats from my other wine merchant mate Rhys including a Rondinella Corvina a blend of two classic Italian amarone varieties and we were in for some serious lunching.

For the food side of things I wanted to keep it to simple flavours. I tossed around a few wintery braised dishes but from talking to Tobes it seemed like the wines were going to be tending to be more around the light to mid weight end of the spectrum. Why not roast pork belly. Rich in it’s own way but not too aggressive. With some spuds to keep the Irish contingent happy, braised fennel (one of porks good mates) and a fresh green salad… all good things.

a long boozy sunday lunch
salt cod brandade with sourdough toast, olives & roasted banana chilli
slow roasted pork belly with baked apple & onion
braised fennel
hasselback potatoes
green salad
date & chocolate tart

note: For a recipe and the story behind hasselback potatoes take a visit over with the lovely Molly from Orangette HERE. The braised fennel starred HERE on stonesoup many moons ago as a vego main course but it works equally as well as second fiddle to the pork. The date and chocolate tart was a new take on my pear and chocolate tart HERE, just skip the pears and sub in about 16 fresh dates, halved.

slow roasted pork belly with baked apple & onion
serves 8<br>Inspired by Karen Martini in Where the Heart Is.

When it comes to roasting, there aren’t many things more forgiving than pork belly. All that fat keeps things lovely and moist even if it is overcooked a little so fear not. When rolled like I have here it is not only a good looking roast, but the lack of bones make for super easy carving.

As with all meat, it’s best if it is at room temperature before it goes into the oven so take the pork out of the fridge a few hours before you’re ready to cook.

3 heads garlic
1 small bunch sage, leaves picked & roughly chopped
1T smoky paprika
2T fennel seeds, ground
2T olive oil
2kg pork belly, bones removed and skin scored (get your butcher to do this)
2T olive oil, extra
3 red onions
8 small apples
1C (250mL) dry white wine

Preheat oven to 180C. Break garlic into individual cloves but leave the skins on. Place in a small ovenproof dish and bake for 20-30mins or until garlic is very soft. Allow to cool and then squeeze out soft flesh into a small bowl, discarding the skins. Stir through sage, paprika, fennel seeds and olive oil to form a chunky paste. Season.

Place pork belly on a wire rack skin side up and position over the sink. Pour boiling water oven the skin to soften it then pat dry. Place belly on a clean surface skin side down and spread the paste in a long row down the center of the belly. Roll the belly into a log and tie with kitchen string to hold in place. If any of the garlic mix oozes out just stuff it back in the best you can.

Increase oven temperature to 250C. Peel and slice each onion into three thick rounds and place in a layer on the bottom of a baking dish. Place pork on top of the onion with the join side down. Rub with extra olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Bake for 30mins. Reduce heat to 160C and add wine and 1C water. Score apples in a ring around their middles and place in the baking dish next to the pork. Bake for an additional 2 ½ to 3 hours or until pork is tender inside and the skin is golden. Drain cooking juices into a saucepan and allow pork to rest in a warm place. While the pork is resting bring juices to a simmer to reduce slightly.  To serve slice pork into round approx 1cm thick divide pork slices, onion and apples between 8 warmed plates. Drizzle over reduced juices and serve immediately.

 

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