“Caramel Pork Belly with Sticky Wholegrain Rice” from “Comfort”

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I like better than a Sunday dinner that requires a few hours in the oven, which fills up the house with delicious smells. Also, this long-and-slow approach to cooking frees you up to do other things during your weekend afternoon, like finishing reading your current book or watching your favourite sports team.

This pork belly requires some serious forethought, but it’s definitely worth it. You actually have to start a day ahead of time because it needs to sit in a brine overnight before popping it into an oven for two hours. John says that the brine makes the meat more juicy when roasted, and that certainly seemed true even after all that roasting time.

The other aspect of this dish that might make some people nervous is the requirement that you make a caramel for the pork to cook in. I hate making caramel; it completely stresses me out. In this case, I wasn’t as stressed as normal because the caramel is only used as a base of the sauce. So the only thing I needed to worry about was not burning it, which I’m happy to report that I didn’t.

We– at least 3/4 of us– loved the pork belly. (The last 1/4 of the family– Tim– wasn’t as convinced at the beauty of this, but he was coming down with a bad cold, so I blame that. I’m sure he’ll like it the next time I make it.) We hoovered it up; there was nothing left by the time the dust settled. We weren’t quite as keen on the red wholegrain rice. I’m not sure why, because you’d figure that rice is rice, but we all agreed that in the future, I would just make regular white rice to go with this.

A relaxing Sunday afternoon? Achievement Unlocked.

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“Caramel Pork Belly with Sticky Wholegrain Rice” from “Comfort”

“Beef Ragu and Courgetti” from “The Art of Eating Well”

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Anna: I’m making normal pasta for the kids. Would you like spaghetti or do you want to try the courgette spaghetti?

Peter: In for a penny and all that.

Anna Do you like this sauce Louis? It’s like sausage sauce. But a bit different.

Louis: I like it. Please can I have some more?

Peter: Isabella likes it too!

Anna: That’s good, because it’s got lots of grated carrots in it.

Peter: So how is it different from your normal bolognese?

Anna: It’s not really. Beef mince, onions, wine, tomatoes, cook for hours, add grated carrots… Normally the carrots are added at the beginning as a sofrito, so I guess that’s the only difference. It makes it a little more healthy, not that you can tell. I would definitely make this again. It was certainly very easy.

Peter: You can tell this isn’t spaghetti.

Anna: Yes, you can. I’m confused by this courgette spaghetti. They say to warm it up in butter but I wonder whether I should have blanched it in boiling water for a minute, just to soften it. Though that might have made it mushy and horrible. I need to give it another go. So far, unconvinced.

 

“Beef Ragu and Courgetti” from “The Art of Eating Well”