Thursday, 22 May 2014

Lechon liempo - pork belly the Filippino style

With one recipe contest out of the way, it's time to start cracking with the next! Feeling pretty good too: pulled lamb sliders made it to the final and everything! But seeing how the star of the next recipe contest is pork (and organic at that!) how could I stay away? Especially as the judge in the contest is the chef of a Michelin-decorated restaurant...!

The contest was kicked off with BBQ treats for which we got an introduction at a lunch the said chef hosted a couple of weeks ago. Doing it right you see lends the meat both taste and texture. Inspiration for my entry comes from ever the seductive Far East and Filippino specialty lechon liempo. I haven't actually ever been to the country but if theirs is anything like this... Oh. My.

Traditionally this would be cooked over hot charcoal in rotisserie, but my BBQ isn't quite that fancy. In case you don't have one at all, you can do the whole hog in the oven too - in that case after the 2 hour cooking period at 175° crank the heat back up to 230° and continue roasting for another half an hour or so until a gloriously golden and divinely crispy crackling has formed. From South West Asia to English Sunday lunch... it's all about the cracking crackling (ooh, how I crack myself up)!

Serves 3-4

700 g boneless slab of (organic) pork belly
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Chinese five spice (or a blend of ground ginger, anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon bark and pepper)
1 small chilli
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
2 stems of lemon grass
the juice of 1 lime (and more to serve)

Using for instance the back of a knife rub one of the lemon grass stems, garlic cloves and chilli to a paste. Mix with vinegar and oil. Place the meat on a cutting board skin side down and score the meat to diamond shape pattern. Rub the marinade into the meat and season. Bash the other lemon grass with the back of the knife to release the flavours and place in the middle of the meat. Roll tightly into a joint and tie with butcher's twine, tying the knots about 1 cm apart. This, by the way, is strictly a four-hand-operation, so in case you aren't (by the Grace of God or a nuclear destruction-related genetic mutation) in the possession of all of them yourself, have someone lend you a hand. Cover and marinate in the fridge for a good couple of hours (or into the next day).

Take the meat out of the fridge at least an hour prior to cooking. Rub some oil and a couple of tsp of salt into the skin and place on a rack in a roasting tin. Pour a couple of tbsp of water into the tin so the juices dripping from the meat won't burn. Heat the oven to 230° and roast for half an hour or so until the skin starts crisping. Drizzle with lime juice, bring the heat down to 175° and continue roasting for 2 more hours. Finish off on the grill to get that crackling.

Let rest for 20 minutes, remove the twine and carve. Serve with Asian coleslaw and freshly squeezed lime juice.

And what do you know- we even have a wine pairing for this! We had stocked some Kung Fu Girl Riesling (a classic with Asian dishes if there ever was one) but then we stumbled upon something even better. A couple of days earlier I had received a selection  of Vintae wines to sample (nope, it doesn't suck to be me!) and La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo 2011, made with Garnache grapes (elsewhere in the world the same grape is known as Grenache) with its soft tannins, berry notes and jelliness worked like magic. I highly recommend it - works so well with BBQ!

*In cooperation with and Norex Spirits- the meat and wine were provided by the suppliers*




1 comment :

  1. BBQ with wine its really an awesome idea. I also go for BBQ parties with my friends and like it more especially when there is a bottle of Italian wine. Thanks for sharing your story.You can visit my store here to know more about my wine passion. Wine cooler by Cong Nguyen