crispy pork belly and herby potatoes

before work this morning i woke bright and early and headed off to the fulton street farmers market. guys, life has been moving at a face pace and every wednesday or friday morning i’ve been busy with something. i got to take a quick walk up and down the aisle this morning gathering just a few things for what i’m hoping to can this weekend. (pears, peaches, carrots and tomatoes). i’m dedicating all sunday to kitchen organization and canning. this could be the last weekend before things really slow down and i move on to apples and pumpkin. there was a noticeable change in the market this morning though. it seems as if the energy of summer was swept out with the storms that pushed away the 90 degree heat and fall is creeping in. it was cool and brisk and full of root veggies and i have no complaints. and by no complaints i mean fall you’re welcome to stay awhile.

my stomach is  ready to move on to pot roasts and meat loafs but my brain is telling me soon enough. we must soak up the last veggies of summer while they are fresh. i have tomatoes and herbs and cucumbers coming out of my ears. so they must be used up. i feel guilty when they rot and go to waste. i have been cooking this week from a new book i picked up called gather by gill meller.  there are a few complex recipes in the book but for the most part the food is simple and adequate for a quick week night meal. earlier this week we made the butter and garlic scallops. we left not a trace thanks to some crust bread we used to soak up the seafood butter. another night we moved on to pork belly. i’ve never cooked pork belly before. i’ve enjoyed it on many a menu but the big slab of it has always intimidated me. it tastes like a heavenlyer version of bacon if you can imagine that. i cooked this on labor day because it needs to take it’s time in the oven and i was home to keep an eye on it.

my patience paid off because the end result was a salty, decadent and filling hunk o meat. the fresh chopped herbs added a bit of freshness to the dish and the potatoes took care of the rest. if you have an afternoon or a few hours to roast some pork, this is your meal ticket. it was relatively hands off so you can do other things while you weight for the scent of bacon to fill your home.

here is what you’ll need (serves 2)

3 tsp fennel seeds
1.5 lb  thick pork belly skin on. completely dry ( i use a clean dish towel to dry it off)
1/2 lb or so of small new potatoes
4 mint sprigs
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
handful of parsley chopped
handful of chives chopped
salt n peppa

1. head oven to 425 degrees

2. in a skillet toast fennel seeds until fragrant and then grind them down with a mortar and pestle. using a sharp nice score the skin and fat of the pork. don’t cut into the meath though.

3. place the pork on a roasting pan and rub with fennel, salt and pepper. place in the oven for 25 minutes and then reduce head to 325. add a small glass of water to the tray and roast for two hours until golden and tender. if the tray is looking too dry add a bit more water as cooking progresses.

4. when the pork is almost finished place the potatoes in water with the mint and bring to a boil. cover and cook about 8 – 10 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. drain and return to pan tossing out the mint. add butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. stir and set aside.

5. once the pork is cooked let it rest for about 15 minutes. my meat was cooked but the top was not as crispy as i wanted it to be so i placed it under the broiler for about 3 minutes watching it every second. we didn’t come this far to burn the meat. add the herbs to the potatoes and toss. place on a platter, top with the pork. skim the fat off the pan juice and pour the juice onto the meat and potatoes. slice and serve.

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