This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.
2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.
(on the day)
3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.
4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.
Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!
Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!
Chicken pies and pies in general are the perfect feel-good food. Rich and flavourful, it’s the perfect home-cooked meal for your friends and family. It’s also pretty quick and easy, especially when using ready-made pastry. Once you’ve tried this classic, you will find yourself try all sorts of tasty variations of your own!
1 tbsp olive oil
300g chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
100g shortcut bacon, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste
20g grated cheese (optional)
1-2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the chicken in the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the bacon to the same pan and cook until lovely & crisp. Add the onion, garlic, leek to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, then the milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened & creamy. Season to taste.
4. Grease a round baking tray and dust it with flour to make it non stick. Flip it over the puff pastry and cut around it to form the lid of the pie. Set aside. Repeat with the shortcrust pastry, but this time cut circles about 1.5cm from the edge of the tin.
5. Ease shortcrust pastry circle into pie the tin, spoon in the chicken mixture, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese if you fancy it.
6. Top with the puff pastry. Cut a small cheminee on top to allow the steam to escape while cooking, press edges to seal, trim any excess pastry using a sharp knife and brush with the egg glaze.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with a side of salad for a summer dish or with vegetable, mash and gravy for a heartier winter meal! If you don’t have short-crust pastry, you can simply use puff pastry for the pie base as well as the lid, it’s just not as traditional!
This Donna Hay inspired pudding looks absolutely gorgeous, yet it’s so easy to make you will really struggle to mess it up! ;0) The only trick is to start on the jelly early to give it enough time to set.
Ingredients: (4 serves)
1 raspberry jelly sachet
100g fresh raspberries
4 macarons (store bought)
1 cup (250ml) thickened cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
Coconut flakes to serve (optional)
1. Make the raspberry jelly according to the packet’s instructions. Arrange 4-5 raspberries in the bottom of each of the 4 serving glasses and pour over the raspberry jelly. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
2. To assemble, place a macaron in each glass on the jelly. Whisk the thickened cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds peaks and layer over the macaron. Top up with a couple of fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes. You’re done!
A Potato Salad is the perfect accompaniment for barbecues and picnics, as it’s best served with meat, seafood and a green leaf salad…A real classic for summer!
Ingredients: (serves 6 people as a side)
12 small potatoes (such as desiree), peeled
4 bacon rashers, rind & excess fat trimmed, finely chopped
3 large tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
3 large tbsp sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 gherkins, finely chopped
2 tbsp carpers, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of dill, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes
1. Cut each potato into 4, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and boil uncovered for 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a stick. Drain and let it cool completely.
In the meantime, heat oil a small frying pan and cook the diced bacon until nice and brown.
2. Combine together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic into a mixing bowl. Top with the dill, gherkin, carpers, shallots and mix well. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
3. Gently toss in the potatoes and bacon bits and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
You can store the potato salad in the fridge for a few days. You can also top it with pieces of hard boiled eggs if you’re serving it as a main!
Flapjacks are incredibly easy and quick to make. Oat is also the main ingredient, so I like to think of it as a reasonably healthy treat to have as a mid morning snack with a cuppa! Some like it crunchy, but I prefer it chewy…Here is a great version…with nice choc’ banana twist!
Ingredients: (16 flapjacks)
250g organic rolled oat
80g raw brown sugar
5 tbsp golden maple sirup
1 tbsp salt
1 banana, mashed
75g chocolate, melted
3 tbsp milk
1 handful of unsalted nuts, crushed
1. Melt the butter in a large non stick saucepan over a very low heat. Add sugar and sirup and mix well.
2. Stir in the oats, add the banana and the pinch of salt.
3. Spread the mixture over a sheet of baking paper in a baking tray and press flat. Place in the oven and cook for 15 min at 220 degrees or until it turns golden brown. Leave it to cool.
4. In the meantime, prepare the melted chocolate in a pan by adding chocolate chunks and milk on low temperature. Dip Half of your flapjacks in chocolate and sprinkle the crushed nuts over it, so that you can still hold it without touching the chocolate (see top picture). Place in the fridge for an hour or to allow for the chocolate to set hard.
Store in a air tight box in the fridge for up to a week and bring half of it to your work colleagues. For an even healthier version, you an replace part of the butter with margarine!