Our 2011 Christmas dinner:
- Crème brûlée foie gras (previous post)
- Polish borcht (somewhere in the future post)
- Grapefruit granita (this post)
- Pork belly with special mashed potatoes (THIS post)
- Pistachio cake with lemon curd and coconut tuile (the following-following post)
So, for main course on Christmas we gave pork belly, but before, we serve something freshening, just because it is so fancy and nice and even easy!
All you need for this is some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (we used 3 grapefruits). Add two tbs of sugar, and some finely chopped mint. After mixing the juice, sugar and mint together put the mixture in a large container- to get a big surface- and put in the freezer. Every 30-60min you need to take the granita out, scramble it around with a fork, and put it back in the freezer, until you get the proper texture- ice crystals. That is all there is to it. I recommend freezing the dishes in which you plan to serve the granita as well, to avoid melting the granita before it is eaten.
Now for the serious stuff:
Pork belly in spice- Holy pork:
This recipe is not mine (it is from this blog) so I will not elaborate. I do, however, have some comments and commentaries, so here they are:
The belly we used was bought in the Carmel Market. It took us a while to find the part of the belly without the bones (from which bacon is made), but actually this recipe can be done with the part with the bones just as well. The part with the bones is called ‘bröst‘ in many places here, and if you use it you must ask the butcher to remove the bones (and give them to you). In any case, you will need to ask the butcher to remove the skin- but leave the fat. The fat is crucial- keep it!
This recipe includes baking the belly for about 3 hours on a low heat, covered in spice and surrounded by wine and root vegetables. The pork is baked covered in baking sheet, which I guess gives the pork fat its crispiness kick start. Then You need to let it cool in the oven for quite a while, and then take it out and put it under something heavy- which gives the pork its perfect shape and a little denser texture. After a couple of hours, you cut the pork to small size portions and fry the pork squares with the fat side down to get a nice crisp. So if you plan on this dish, notice you need the time for it to cook (we started it at about 11:00 and served it at 20:30). But of course you can do most of the work a few days in advance.
The full original recipe is here, and the pictures from ours are here, bellow:
I will just add that we used some cardamom in the spice mixture, which was a nice addition.
This pork belly recipe is somewhat spicy- because of all the spices and lots of black pepper. Of course, this dish is not so great for people with cholesterol problems, but it is really good for everyone else. You can of course be creative and change the spice mixture to suit your taste and creativity, however trying this cooking method is highly recommended. The belly cames out tasty and soft, and wonderfully crispy.
As a side dish we made ‘campfire’ mash potatoes– ‘Christ’s mash’:
The mash, as you can obviously see in the above picture, was made from potatoes and celery root that were done on coals with some smoking rosemary. The original idea was to bake them in the oven, but the photographer got creative. All this playing with fire turned out really nice, and the photographer turned out really smokin’ as well… We mashed these smoked potatoes, celery bulb and some roasted garlic with butter, salt and pepper. So that was the side dish for the holy-pork-belly.
Hope you will give yourself a chance to have a merry pork belly too!