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Slow roasted pork belly

This is the ultimate no fuss pork belly recipe that gives you the best results. Slow roasting at a low temperature leaves you with a melt in the mouth piece of meat The recipe was given to me by chef Martin Lee of one of my favourite restaurants, the Plough at Bolnhurst near where I used to live in the UK. It was a regular on their menu 10 years ago and I had to get the recipe before I moved to the Netherlands. There's been a few tweaks over the years as I cook this on the Egg these days and often vary the alcohol used in the recipe.

1 kilo pork belly
1 litre chicken stock 
You can then add either of the following; 200ml of white wine, red wine, cider or mead
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
Few sprigs of rosemary
1 onion sliced
1 clove of garlic roughly crushed
Salt and pepper to season

Place the onion in a baking tray, place the seasoned pork belly on top, add the stock, herbs and alcohol and place in an oven at 110c for 8 hours
If cooking on the BBQ then use a cast iron dish and set the BBQ up for indirect cooking at 110c for 8 hours
Ensure the pork belly is covered with the stock right up to the crackling, but not over it
I would advise to keep an eye on the stock level and top up occasionally during the cooking process
After 8 hours you can take the belly out and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes before serving
The stock can be strained off and then used to make gravy, ensure you skim off the excess fat before doing so



Hot smoked bourbon trout

This is a simple wintry salad, with flavours that pair so well together.  Smoky trout paired with sweet earthy beetroot and sharp apple. Hot smoking is a quick way of infusing flavour with fish, do allow the fish to rest for an hour to let the smoky aromas settle before serving. 

10g fine salt
10g brown sugar
50ml bourbon
1 rainbow trout filleted skin on
1 beetroot peeled 
20ml olive oil
Half an Elstar apple 
5ml lemon juice

Mix together the salt and the sugar and sprinkle lightly over the trout fillets
Pour the bourbon into a deep dish baking tray and place the trout fillets in flesh side down 
Place in the fridge for 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) 200c (normal) 
Cut the beetroot into eighths and place in a baking dish, drizzle with the oil and cook in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until a knife pierces them easily
Place the beetroot to one side to cool
After the trout has cured for one hour, rinse off the cure and place on a cooling rack in the fridge for a further hour to allow it to air dry
Set your BBQ up for indirect cooking at 70c with hickory chips or set your smoker up for hot smoking with hickory wood dust at 70c
Place the fillets on a rack on your BBQ or smoker and smoke for roughly 1 hour or until it reaches 68c internal temp, this will depend on the thickness of the trout, so it may take longer
Once cooked place to one side to cool
Slice the apple thinly and sprinkle with the lemon juice
Remove the skin from the trout and cut into slices
Arrange on a plate with the apple and beetroot


Chocolate and hazelnut biscuits

I've been making these biscuits quite a lot recently. Mostly likely because they're tasty and easy to put together. In combination with the recent cold snap and being stuck in lockdown, quick and easy comfort food is needed. 

200g flour
5ml vanilla essence
120g butter
120g sugar
1 egg
70g hazelnuts
30g cocoa powder
50g chocolate chips (optional)

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar
Add the egg and mix well
Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, nuts and chocolate chips and mix until you get a stiff dough
Roll into a sausage shape and place in the fridge to firm up for a minimum of 3 hours (you can also freeze the mix)
Slice the dough into 1cm thick disks
Place on a non stick baking sheet
Bake in the oven at 190C (fan) 200C (normal) for 12 minutes or until golden brown
If cooking from frozen cook for 16 minutes
The cookies will be a little soft when they come out of the oven, they will harden up as they cool

Goat rendang

Rendang has its roots in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking, the recipe will vary from region to region. It has a wonderful aromatic flavour and a richness from the coconut milk. A versatile dish that works with chicken, pork, beef or goat and benefits from slow cooking. This is my take on the dish.
Rendang paste
10g fresh ginger grated
10g galangal grated
4 sticks lemongrass grated
2 shallots peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic peeled
10g fresh turmeric grated or 5g turmeric powder
3 cardamom pods
5g cumin seeds
5g coriander seeds

Roast the cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds in a heavy bottomed pan for 5 minutes and then grind into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a paste
You can also grind these in a mortar and pestle if you wish and grind that way, its the more traditional approach, but I find for larger amounts, the food processor is much easier
You can store the paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a couple of months
This makes enough for two portions

Curry
50g curry paste
500g goat shoulder cubed
400ml coconut milk
10ml fish sauce
5g palm sugar
1 green chilli finely chopped (optional)
5 lime leaves
5cm stick cinnamon
2 star anise
10 ml oil for frying
50g toasted grated fresh coconut
10ml lime juice

In a wok or heavy based pan add the oil, cinnamon stick, star anise and curry paste and fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes
Next add the goat, coconut milk, lime leaves, chilli, and toasted coconut
Place a lid on the pan
Simmer on a low heat for 3 hours until the goat meat becomes tender (start to test the meat after a couple of hours)
Keep an eye on the liquid level throughout the cooking, the rendang should be thick and not too loose, if it gets too dry, add a little water
To finish stir through the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar
Serve with steamed rice

Martinez cocktail

This cocktail was the precursor to the martini. It originated in the 1790's in America and was thought to have been made with old Tom gin, which is a sweeter version of modern day gins and a sweet vermouth. As tastes changed through the ages, its drier counterpart began to court popularity and the dry martini was born. This recipe is a twist (pardon the pun) on the original and uses corenwyn which is a distilled Dutch malt wine spirit flavoured with juniper berries and matured in oak casks. It's based on a cocktail I had in one of my favourite bars in Amsterdam, The Tailor.

60ml corenwyn 
30ml red Dolin vermouth
10ml maraschino liqueur
3 dashes orange bitters

Place all the ingredients in a mixing jug and add ice, stir to combine (no longer than 30 - 40 seconds) and strain into a martini glass
You can serve this with either a maraschino cherry or a twist of orange

Traditional Irish breakfast and chorizo style sausages

Making sausages requires a bit of work and the right equipment. It's quite a satisfying thing to do when you have the time and always nice to know that they are home made. My favourites are Irish breakfast, which is a herby sausage and chorizo style which has a lovely smoky flavour. 

What you do require is a mincer, a sausage stuffer and casings. I'm lucky that I have a Kitchen Aid with a mincer and sausage making accessories, so the job is a lot easier. Casings are easily available online but check how long you need to soak the casings for before use. My preference is hog casings as they don't have a tendency to burst as easily, but you can use sheep casings which can be a bit more delicate, so need to take care when stuffing.

If you don't have a mincer ask, your butcher to mince your meat for you. With regards the pork, I find Duroc, Berkshire or Tamworth breeds yield the best meat to fat ratios. Breeds such as Mangalitsa have a higher fat content and you end up with a fatty sausage. My preference is always belly, shoulder or neck cuts with at least a 70% meat to 30% fat ratio. Do ensure there is some fat in your sausage mix as it will keep the meat moist when cooking.

Traditional Irish breakfast style Sausages
Sausage casings (sheep or hog casings are best)
2kg pork meat and fat roughly minced
20g finely chopped fresh thyme
20g Finely chopped fresh sage
20g finely chopped fresh parsley
200g breadcrumbs
50ml pork or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste, bear in mind you will need a lot of seasoning given the fact there is 2kg of meat involved, so start with 5g of each and test the mixture by frying off a small amount in a pan and adjust seasoning as necessary

Soak the casings overnight or according to the instructions on the pack
In a bowl soak the breadcrumbs in the stock for a couple of hours
Mix the herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning together with the minced pork
To test if it has been seasoned enough, fry off a small piece and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary
Fill the sausage casings slowly using a sausage stuffer
Do not overstuff the casing otherwise the sausages will burst when cooking
You can then either make a Cumberland style sausage link or select the size of sausage you wish to have and twist at each end, be careful when doing this as you can easily burst the casing

Chorizo Style Sausage
Sausage casings
2kg pork roughly minced
4 cloves garlic finely grated
200g breadcrumbs
100ml red wine
20ml sherry vinegar
70g smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to season

Follow the above method for the herby sausages (soak the breadcrumbs in the wine and sherry vinegar), do test the mix by cooking it out for taste and adjust seasoning accordingly






Potato and cauliflower curry (aloo ghobi)

This was one of my favourite curry house side dishes, more often than not the vegetarian dishes were always more varied and interesting than the meat ones. I'd end up ordering them instead. Cauliflower is bang in season now and adds a lovely sweetness to the dish. 
1 tin tomatoes or 3 tomatoes when in season roughly chopped
Tomato puree
5g cumin seeds
2 medium onions finely chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala 
4 garlic cloves grated
2 red chillies finely chopped
1 inch ginger grated
5g palm sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
30ml oil or ghee for frying
6 medium sized potatoes quartered and par boiled for 10 minutes
1 small head of cauliflower divided into florets and steamed for 15 minutes (keep the stalks for stir fries)
70g frozen peas
50ml full fat Greek yoghurt at room temp
10g chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Saute the onions in the oil/ghee in a saucepan on a low heat until soft
Add the cumin seeds and cook for another 2-3 mins
Next add the chillies, garlic, tomato puree and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the tomatoes and simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes
About 10 mins into the cooking time add the garam masala and stir through
To finish add the potatoes and frozen peas, cook for a further 5 minutes
Season with the sugar and salt 
Stir through the yoghurt

Turn off the heat and garnish with the coriander before serving