Crisp Belly of Pork with Lentils and Granny Smith Apple Purée

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I favour apples with a high acidity, like Granny Smiths, to cut through the fattiness of the pork belly. If you can’t get apples that are sufficiently acidic, you can always add a little lemon juice to the purée.

Ingredients

  • 1 pork belly, about 1.5 kg
  • 1 recipe quantity brine
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Lentils

  • 25 g butter
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, strings removed and diced
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 300 g Puy lentils

For the Granny Smith Apple Purée

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 25 g butter

Method

The day before, using a craft knife, slash the pork rind into 1 cm. strips, making sure that you do not penetrate the meat. Place in the cooled brine for 1 day. This process not only flavours the meat, but also helps release water from the fat and rind, creating a base for fantastic crispy crackling.

Next day, take the pork from the brine, place in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, lift out the pork and leave to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 3.

Place the garlic and thyme on the base of a roasting tray, put the pork on top, rind side up, and liberally drizzle with olive oil and salt. Pour 2 cm. of water into the tray, put in the preheated oven and roast for 1½-2 hours, topping up with water now and again just to stop it drying out.

When cooked, take from the oven and leave to cool down. Pour off all the juices and reserve. Place a tray or board on top of the pork and apply 3–4 plates to press and reshape the pork in order to obtain a nice flat appearance (otherwise it develops an odd shape during cooking and cooling).

To cook the lentils, melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan and lightly sweat the diced vegetables in it. Add the lentils and reserved juices from the pork. Top up with water to cover plus 2.5 cm, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 30 minutes.

To make the Granny Smith apple purée, peel, core and chop the apples. Put in a stainless-steel pan with the butter, cover and cook over a low heat until soft, about 10–15 minutes. Crush or blend to a paste.

Serve the pork carved thickly, with the purée and lentils.

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