So, my dilemma was how I could get my recipes to be “more free of” when we are focusing on freedom this issue, and then I had a light bulb moment. How about freedom from the diet / clean / perfect eating mindset. Absolutely we should eat the best quality least processed food our budget and logistics can afford, but there is a time and a place for more freedom in our choices. And to celebrate and enjoy life. There isn’t anything more soul nourishing than sitting down to a hearty meal with friends or family and enjoying food, love, laughter and good company.
When I am really letting my hair down, the below are my favourite two dishes to prepare for my loves. Crispy Apple Cider Pork Belly with Parsnip Puree, Caramelised Apples and Fennel Cabbage. And Salted Caramel Chocolate Lava Cakes. Moments of pure bliss right there !
You will see that despite their inherent “occasionally only’ status with their higher sugar and fat content, they have been cleaned up a little to focus on whole foods, and if you are eating well during the week there isn’t any reason you cant be free to enjoy something utterly decadent and delicious at the weekend. Particularly when we source those ingredients locally.
So enjoy this one, next edition we will be in new year detox mode !
- 5 kg Free Range Pork Belly, bones out, skin on
- 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Virgin Olive Oil
Apple Cider Sauce – Stage 1 – Braising Stock
- 1 Litre Apple Cider (the sparkling apple drink, not the vinegar)
- 2 Cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Large Carrots, chopped
- 1 Leak, chopped
- 1 Large onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Fennel Seeds
- 4 Star Anise Pods
Apple Cider Sauce – Stage 2 – The Final Sauce
- 2 Cups Strained Braising Stock, after the pork belly has been cooked
- 1 Cup Apple Juice
- 3 Sprigs Thyme
- 1 Teaspoon Fennel
- 1 Star Anise Pod
- 400 Grams Parsnips, diced
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 4 Large Green Apples, peeled, divided into 8 wedges
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 4 Cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fennel
- The day before you are planning to cook your pork belly take it out of its packaging, pat dry, and rub salt into the skin and leave uncovered in the fridge until you are ready to cook
- Set oven to 160 degrees
- In a pan just large enough to fit the pork belly, add the virgin olive oil and put on medium heat. Brush the excess salt off the pork belly and place facedown in the pan placing even heat on the back so that all of the skin is in contact with the pan and hot oil (you can use a heavy based pan to apply pressure). In 6-8 minutes the skin should have popped into crackle, if not give it another two minutes, being careful not to burn, brown briefly on the underside and set aside
- Now make the braising liquid which braises the pork belly during cooking and is stage 1 of the final sauce. Add all ingredients from stage 1 to a pot and bring to the boil. Pour the braising stock into your roasting pan and add the pork belly on top so the meat is submerged and the crackled skin is above. Make sure your roasting pan has enough room for the stock but also that its not too large and the meat is uncovered and dries out. You can use bits of the vegetables underneath any sections that are uneven and making the pork belly dip. Cook for 2.5 hours at 160.
- Carefully remove pork belly from the roasting dish, strain the braising stock into a pouring jug and return pork belly to the pan and leave to warm in the oven (which has been turned off)
- Strain the braising stock into a small saucepan, add the apple juice, thyme, fennel and star anise and bring to the boil. Boil for 3-5 minutes and remove the aromatics, then reduce to a low heat and simmer while you prepare your side dishes until it has thickened then set aside.
- In a medium pot of boiling water add the parsnips and cook until tender. When tender drain, add the butter and pepper and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.
- In a Medium pan heat the butter, once the butter starts foaming, add the apple wedges and season with a little salt and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the apples are starting to brown. Then add the coconut sugar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden and the sauce is slightly syrupy. Set aside
- Flash fry the shredded red cabbage with the apple cider vinegar and fennel seeds in the medium pan until it is just starting to wilt but is still crunchy
- On a plate place a dollop of parsnip puree with a slice of pork belly on top. Add the caramelised apples and cabbage to the side. Serve with your reduced apple cider sauce
- 350 grams salted caramel chocolate
- 50 grams soft unsalted butter
- 50 grams coconut sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 grams brown rice flour
- Put the oven on 180ºC
- Melt the salted caramel chocolate and leave to cool while you prepare the other ingredients
- Use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, vanilla, and rice flour. When it is well mixed take a spatula and gently but thoroughly mix the chocolate through.
- Divide between 4 tart tins (or even a muffin tray) that have been greased and lined with baking paper.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, gently turn over onto dessert plates, remove the baking paper and serve. These are very rich so I tend to serve alone or with some fresh fruit but coconut ice cream work too !
- Enjoy !
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