In Madrid and many regions of Spain you take your pick of the tantalising plates packed along the bar to devour with an aperitif. Pintxos, a Basque specialty, translates as ‘spike’ or skewer. The flavour of Iberian pork is off the charts because of the animals’ acorn diet: you can taste a sweet nuttiness in the meat that’s unforgettable. I’ve tried many methods of making crisp pork belly, but getting the crackling crisp was always a gamble until one of my fellow teachers at Leiths School of Food and Wine, Andrea Hamilton, gave me the definitive method: drying the skin by leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight before scoring it and adding salt. After a blast of high heat, it is slow cooked for hours and then blasted once more at the end, then the grand finale is the Spanish quince and sherry vinegar glaze.
Combine the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and paprika in a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them, then rub the meat side of the pork belly with the spices. Leave it skin-side up and uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. Place the meat, skin-side up, in a shallow roasting tin. Pat the skin dry using paper towel, then use a sharp knife to score the skin, making sure you don’t cut all the way through to the meat. Sprinkle the skin with the sea salt, then
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes until light golden. Add the dulce de membrillo and stir until melted, then add the vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes or until reduced. Add the sugar, chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and 125 ml (
Chop the pork belly into small squares and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with the glaze and serve with toothpicks or, for a more substantial meal, with cooked puy lentils or beans and Fennel, Pear & Radicchio Salad.
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