Monday, June 7, 2010

Flavour combinations - Bovril braised pork belly

It is a well know and self publicised fact that I adore the dark, sticky, savoury goodness of Bovril. A rather old fashioned ingredient that is known as a condiment to stir into porridge, a convenient instant soup base or in the case of my family, stirred through instant noodles topped with finely sliced spring onions and crispy shallots - eaten with a runny fried egg... (I'm tempted to whip up some right now just thinking about it!)

But for too long this ingredient packed with bovine goodness has been one dimensional for me - always associated with a quick noodle fix. But in one of those moments just this weekend where all you think about is what to cook for your next meal, I began to wonder... surely, something that tasted so good must be good for something else... surely there must be a way of reproducing the flavours that work so well into something else that I adore that will... dare I say... make it taste even more amazing?

Enter the pork belly. I HEART pork belly... a hugely underrated cut that promises melt in your mouth goodness from the thin layers of fat that render to transform into an almost gelatinous consistency... perfect in a slow braise or even roasted to crispen the skin for perfect crackling.

And so - it would make complete sense to marry the beefy, savoury richness of Bovril with the sweet, butteriness of the pork belly... and complete sense it was! I marinated the pork belly overnight in a marinade made from Bovril (of course), mirin, cracked pepper, bay leaves, garlic and shallots (which were grated in).

I then pan seared the pork belly on all sides and poured in the marinade, a little sake to deglaze the by now sticky, gooey pan, and a touch of water. I then threw in a few whole shallots and smashed garlic cloves to simmer with the pork belly for about 45 mins on a low to medium heat.

45 minutes later, the pork belly is removed and cut into bite sized chunks. The stewing liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency and knob of butter is thrown in to finish the sauce (butter tastes AMAZING with Bovril) and to give it a beautiful gloss.

After plating up, smother the pork belly with very finely sliced spring onions and crispy fried shallots. Eat with piping hot steamed rice and a fried runny egg to pay homage to the way Bovril has always been eaten in my family.

I promise you'll love this recipe.


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