HAVE A PORKY CHRISTMAS
Weather-proof your Christmas dinner with a simple roast that will be beautiful come rain or come shine, or anything inbetween. Because that’s probably what we’ll get.
The key to cooking a frazzle-free Christmas dinner is to be as flexible as the weather. Then you can just relax and go along with whatever is happening without having to discuss #climatechange at the Christmas table.
Here’s a fairly classic roast pork belly, for instance, enlivened with black pepper and fennel seeds. You can serve it with Christmassy red cabbage (recipe below pork).
Or slice it and serve Korean ssam style, with a platter of soft lettuce leaves, rice, kimchi and kochujang.
Or cut it into chunks and serve as a salad with a tangy coleslaw.
Or serve it with gently cooked-down peaches and cherries with a splash of vinegar.
Or place it on a big platter of shaved fennel, apple and radish salad.
See what I mean?
Roast pork belly with black pepper and fennel seed
1.4 kg piece belly pork, boned and skin-on
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black pepper, crushed
1 tsp brown sugar
1/ Use a Stanley knife or sharp blade to score the skin of the belly pork at 1 cm intervals (make sure you get right to the edges so the rendered fat can drain off).
2/ Rub the olive oil all over the pork.
3/ Crush the sea salt, fennel seeds, sugar and black pepper in a mortar until half-ground-up, and rub all over the top. Leave uncovered in the fridge for three hours or more.
4/ Heat the oven to 220 C and place an oiled rack in a baking tray lined with baking paper. If the pork feels dry, rub in a little more olive oil and sea salt, and bake for 45 minutes, to get that crunchy crackling kick-started.
5/ Turn the temp. down to 170 C and bake for a further 45 minutes.
6/ To finish the cooking, raise the temperature to 220 C and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes, keeping an eye on it, until the crackling is knock-knock crisp.
6/ Rest for 10 minutes, then carve into slices and serve. Serves 4.
AND FOR SOMETHING ON THE SIDE…
RED CABBAGE WITH ORANGE AND BAY
1 kg red cabbage
1 orange, cut in half
4 bay leaves
100 ml apple cider vinegar
100 ml water or more
100 g brown sugar
2 tsp salt
Remove and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, and cut out any solid core. Shred the cabbage at 1cm intervals.
Juice one half of the orange, then stick the cloves into the juiced rind, saving the other half for serving.
Combine orange juice, bay leaves, vinegar, water, brown sugar and salt in a heavy oven-proof pan and bring to the boil. Add the cabbage, tossing well, and the cloved orange half.
Cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour, tossing occasionally, until the cabbage is tender enough to be delicious. Remove the orange half, and adjust vinegar, salt, sugar, etc.
If there’s too much liquid, drain it into a small saucepan and boil until reduced to a glaze, then return to the cabbage and toss well. Serve with the orange wedges and bay leaves to the fore. Serves 4.
Tip: If your cabbage has turned a boring shade of pale purple, here’s a quick hack to bring it back to life. Whiz half a cup of pickled beetroot slices in a mini-blender, and add to the cabbage at the last minute, for your best Pantone PMS 1945 C berry red.
NEXT WEEK: The side dishes you need by your side.
Because the ham and turkey might be the tree, but the side dishes are the tinsel, baubles and Christmas lights. Especially when one of them is The World’s Easiest Salad. Until then, Jill x
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I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and waters upon which I work, live, cook and play; the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I fully support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.