If ever there was a week when fast and easy food was required, it’s this one. Most people will be finishing work, or travelling, or writing and buying the last Christmas cards and presents or, poor sods, all of the above and many will be feeling a combination of a) exhaustion at the prospect of too much to do and b) elation at the thought of a few days spent having very little to do. I am, for once, going nowhere and, having spent the last two years at the mercy of the awful combination of snow and closed airports the prospect of stasis is wonderful. Right now, though, I am still moving and cooking, bar heating up leftovers, is something I am looking forward to rather than doing. At times like these I turn to the simple acts of roasting and stewing and this combination of pork belly and red cabbage is a perfect example of how something delicious doesn’t necessarily require hours in the kitchen.
Unlike many red cabbage recipes this one, from the first Riverford cookbook, is nice and short on ingredients and the pork, adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Everyday book is a cinch (don’t feel you need the seeds: a good bit of sea salt and pepper is equally delicious) so, if all you can face this week is turning a few buttons and chopping a few vegetables, these recipes are for you. They take about an hour and a half but, unlike everything else on the to-do list, they barely need any looking after.
Roasted pork belly with braised red cabbage and apple
For two portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
sea salt and black pepper
balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon
dark soft brown sugar, 1 tablespoon
pork belly, 650-700g
coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon (optional)
fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon (optional)
red cabbage, 400g (a small one)
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-assisted/gas 7.
2. If you’re using fennel and/or coriander seeds bruise them lightly (to crack not crush them) in a pestle and mortar.
3. Sprinkle half the seeds in the bottom of a roasting tin then put the pork belly meat-side down on top of them or just in the tin if you’re not using the seeds. Rub the pork skin/fat with the other half of the seeds and some sea salt and black pepper then roast for about twenty minutes.
4. Meanwhile, chop the red cabbage into small pieces, peel and chop the onion and peel, core and chop the apple. Put them all in a (lidded) saucepan with the butter, sugar, balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper, place over a medium to high heat and stir together until combined. Once the mixture is simmering (which should take a few minutes) lower the heat, cover the pan and leave to cook (it should take about an hour to an hour and a half). Stir every so often to prevent any bits sticking.
5. Once the first twenty minutes of the pork’s cooking time are up, lower the heat to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4 and leave to cook for another 40 minutes or so, until the pork juices run clear and there is no pink meat.
6. When the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven, wrap it in foil and leave it to rest for about fifteen minutes by which time the red cabbage should be lovely and soft and done. If need be, whilst the meat is resting, cut the crackling off the meat and return it to oven for a little longer to crisp up a bit more.