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Now this is how I like my meat – slow cooked, full of moisture and soft enough you can pull it apart with a fork. But up until now we haven’t really cooked meat like this, but after spotting a rather good-looking piece of pork belly at Davenports Farm Shop this was the moment.
We followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Pork Belly Roast and it didn’t let us down – not that any Jamie recipe ever has, I don’t think. On top there was a layer of golden, crispy crackling, and beneath the meat was flavourful and soft.
We ate it drenched in gravy, with a pile of fluffy and super buttery mashed potato, and peas and broad beans. De-lish! Definitely one to make for friends.
Last week we had incredible fish and chips from a place in Didsbury called Frankie’s Fish Bar, but it left me feeling guilty that all I’d eaten for dinner was deep-fried fish and potatoes.
So I was determined the following night to fill us full of vegetables, and this is what I came up with…
All the vegetables were English, although not grown by me. There were new potatoes, boiled and tossed in lots of salty butter and black better. Pink and white radishes sliced in half, asparagus spears and baby carrots blanched and sliced.
Broad beans and fresh peas shelled and briefly cooked in simmering water. Lots of seasonal salad leaves, crispy bacon shards, and those gorgeous nasturtium flowers (bought from Waitrose, so delighted they’re selling edible flowers).
Not a lot of complicated stuff, just a lot of shelling broad beans and slicing. But really delicious – I want to eat more of this sort of food over the summer.
Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots.
This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy.
Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad
20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done. Drain and cut in half or quarters.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.
Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it. Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl. Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves. Stir everything together.
Somehow I think a dish like this for dinner won’t fill us up – certainly not a hungry man. But it does. And it’s incredibly satisfying and you’re not left wanting more.
Here’s how to make it…
Warm salad of winter leaves, crispy pancetta and a poached egg
Serves 2 for a scrumptious dinner or a light lunch
Couple of handfuls of winter leaves
6-8 thin slices of pancetta
Half a ciabatta loaf
1 clove of garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Tear up the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a baking sheet. Thinly slice the garlic and sprinkle over the ciabatta, along with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Bung in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the ciabatta starts to go golden.
Whilst the ciabatta is crisping up, put a pan of boiling water on ready to poach your eggs.
Place your salad leaves in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and toss well. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Once the 5 minutes is up, quickly remove the baking tray from the oven and lay the slices of pancetta on top of the ciabatta. Pop back in the oven for about another 5 minutes or until the pancetta is crispy.
Meanwhile, poach the eggs. This is how I poach eggs:
1) bring a pan of water to a simmer
2) I add a dash of white wine vinegar to help the eggs as I’m never confident without it!
3) carefully crack your egg into a small ramekin so the yolk doesn’t burst
4) using a spoon, I start to rapidly mix the water to create a whirlpool effect in the middle
5) carefully pour the egg into the centre of the pan where the whirlpool is and pray that it holds together!
Usually I just judge by eye when the egg is how I like it – with a runny golden yolk. I do one egg at a time. For a more accurate way to poach eggs I’d suggest Delia.
Whilst your eggs are poaching, start to plate everything else up.
Pop a good handful of dressed winter leaves onto your plate. Follow this with a scattering of the crunchy, garlicky ciabatta croutons. Next I lay over the crispy pancetta.
Finally, as the eggs are ready carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let them drain for a moment. Gently rest the poached egg in the nest of leaves, croutons and pancetta and dust with a little sea salt and black pepper.
Now cut open that beautiful orb encased in its fluffy white cloud to let that silky golden yolk dribble down over the croutons and pancetta. Yum-ee.