Pork Belly, Pea Puree + Pea Shoots

There are some days when I have a Bridget Jones moment; staring at the contents of my fridge and hoping to God I don't end up making a blue string soup! But then there are those other days when I have a sudden glorious epiphany! I'll gather my purse and hurry down the cobbled streets of Bath to Waitrose and buy those ingredients I need for the dish I have in mind. Here is one such dish I created recently which was a bit of a triumph I can happily say! It luckily didn't turn out blue either...

Admittedly, Scott has created this dish for us before and I remember it being absolutely delicious at the time. Caramelized, succulent slowly cooked marinated pork belly on a bed of smooth, creamy pea puree and crunchy, crisp pea shoots. It's super simple to rustle up. After a few minutes of prepping the veg, you can then leave the pork belly to work its magic in a hot water bath whilst you put your feet up. You'll need to leave yourself at least 3.5 hours cooking time, so I suggest maybe leaving this dish for the weekend when you have a little more time on your side.

Firstly, wash the pork belly under cold water and place into a deep saucepan.

Add one large fresh orange sliced in two, one celery stalk (also sliced in two), 3 bay leaves, one white onion sliced into four segments, 3 or 4 peeled garlic cloves and a tablespoon of dried oregano. Finish with a crack of pepper. 

Fill your saucepan with cold water about 3/4 of the way up. Don't worry when the fruit and veg rises to the top, this will happen and you'll soon be covering the top of the saucepan with one layer of baking parchment anyway. This little trick helps to retain the heat whilst cooking.

Leave the saucepan on the hob over a low simmering heat for 3 and a half hours. Keep checking in every now and then to remove the white frothy scum that will begin to form on top of the water bath. Once cooked, you can remove the pork belly from the water and the heat and place on a chopping board. To ensure the meat is cooked through, gently insert a knife into the centre of the meat; if the juices run clear then the meat is ready to eat. Once you are confident the meat is cooked, then gently remove the thick, outer layer of skin, ensuring you make the incision with the knife facing away from you. *Sorry this photo doesn't look particularly appetizing at this stage!*

Once the meat has cooked, place it in an airtight container and pop it in the fridge for 1.5 hours. This will help dry out the meat which is what you'll want if a perfect crunchy crackling top is what you're after! So in the meantime, you can prepare the pea puree. Simply pour 400 g of Petit Pois, or, garden peas, into a saucepan of boiling water. Cook until the peas are tender (this should only take about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and drain well. Next, decanter the peas into a blender and introduce a splash of full fat milk. Whizz up for about 2 minutes until a thick puree is formed. Return to a clean saucepan to heat up the mix, sprinkling in a good pinch of salt and pepper as you stir.

Once the pea puree has been made and set aside, you can check your timer on the pork belly. If an hour and a half is up, then remove from the fridge and slice the belly into thick wedges as shown below. You'll then want to introduce the meat to a frying pan coated in a generous knob of butter and drizzle of oil. Heat up the meat on both sides until golden and caramelized. 

Now begin plating up. You may need to quickly reheat the pea puree if it has been away from the heat. Once ready, spoon the puree in a thick circle in the centre of your plate. Then place your pre-washed pea shoots artfully around the plate, using up as many or as little as you like!

Add the pork belly... I like to stack at least three wedges of the succulent meat on top of the creamy green bed of pea puree.

Finish with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Then get stuck in...