Slow-braised pork belly with langoustine, crushed peas and Madeira sauce

The San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants were awarded the other night. Sadly, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road has fallen out of the top 100, but interestingly, Marcus Wareing who used to run Petrus for him, came in at 52. I wonder if Gordon has been intentionally snubbed or has the standard of the food at Royal Hospital Road dropped dramatically enough for him to fall from number 13 in 2007 to out of the list in 2008. Jay Rayner, the food critic for The Guardian in the UK, puts it down to the G-man being “less exciting” than his former protege. You can listen to what he has to say here.

Enough about that, there’s another 3 Star Chef in training (LOL!). I have to say that this dish was an effort, the culmination of 4 days of, well, mostly boiling stuff but it was every bit worth it.

I started on a Saturday morning with a visit to AC Butchery to get the pork belly, it took me the whole weekend to make the stocks and then the pork needed to be done over two days. Anything that takes two days to cook is a sure thing in my opinion, so with work and everything it was Tuesday night when we finally sat down to eat.

As this was only the my second attempt at being a 3 Star Chef (ok I’ll stop now), I wasn’t game to invite anyone around for taste testing just yet, so I halved the recipe on page 197 and also saved myself some dosh because that Madeira is expensive yo!

Here’s the loot (including the $45 bottle of Madeira and the neatly packaged HOME MADE stocks *smug*)

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First up I had to trim the belly and remove the bones and skin, because the recipe says “1 fresh pork belly boned and skinned“. Of course, I didn’t think ask the butcher to do it, so here is my first attempt at boning a pork belly.

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I think I did a good job but I couldn’t help thinking it was weird there was no skin in this dish because isn’t the skin the best part of a pork belly? Crackle anyone?

The next step was to season the belly, then roll up and tie into a neat log. Except I forgot to buy string, so thinking WWMD (what would MacGyver do), I grabbed the dental floss (plain, not minted) from the bathroom and used that.

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This is where I’m showing my amateur-ness (naiveity?) because of course when I put the log into a pan to brown, the dental floss burnt through almost straight away and I had a mini disaster on my hands, frantically pulling the pork and the floss out of the pan while screaming to Adam “CAN YOU PLEASE DO ME A FAVOUR?!”.  Lucky I have a nice boyfriend who hot-footed up the road to the convenience store to buy me some heavy duty cooking string. ❤

This is what is looked like after it was resurrected, re-tied, then browned in the pan for about 8 minutes. Muuuuuuch better!

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Draining off the excess fat from the pan, I added the chopped vegies and cooked on high heat until they began to soften. I deglazed the pot with some white wine and let bubble until almost totally reduced. The pork was returned to the pot along with the chicken and veal stocks and brought to a boil, then after reducing to a simmer it was left for 3 hours, turning occasionally. By the time it was done a skewer should push through the meat easily – which it did!

Taking the pork out while it was hot, I layed it flat on a baking sheet, placed another baking sheet on top, then weighed it down with some cans ready to go in the fridge over night.

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The leftover juice and vegies in the pan got pushed through a sieve, then brought to a boil AGAIN and reduced by two-thirds. Concentrated meaty-wine-vegie goodness.

In another sauce I took the black gold Madeira and reduced it by half (does he think I’m made of money or something?) then added it to the stock and BOILED SOME MORE to make a syrupy sauce. Then I did the dishes, hung up my tea towel and retired to bed (it was past midnight by this stage).

Day Two…

We stopped at the Fish Market on our way to work to pick up some langoustine.  This was the first time I’d been the fish market early (it was 7am) and man was it different to the usual weekend mayhem. The only people there were restauranteurs and fish shop owners, we practically had the place to ourselves and the pick of the days catch! It was all so beautiful and fresh, I was cursing not having my camera there.

Despite the selection, they did not have any langoustine, because according the the fish monger, you can’t get it in Australia. However SCAMPI is practically the same thing (is the same thing, does anyone know?), so I got 6 fresh scampi and they were pretty cute.

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And this is what I did to these cute little fellas. I hope you’re not eating your lunch right now.

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Sorry about that.

The reason I needed to decimate them so, (well, first of all if truth be told I had a little help with the decimating) is because they had to be peeled, cleaned and any coral reserved. For the uninitiated, coral means BRAINS. Scampi brains – well actually, I don’t know for certain it is the brain, but the book describes it as, the small sac in the head, so brains is close enough in my book. Anyway, it was a gag-worthy task and I appreciated the assistance.

The scampi were brushed with their coral, which gave them a slight orange tinge, and set aside to be cooked later.

I then blanched some freshly shelled peas and a bunch of mint for 2 – 3 min, drained and whizzed in a food processor with some olive oil. The trick was to crush them, without puree-ing, and I got it just right.

I got the pork belly out of the fridge and it had been squashed flat and looked a bit ridiculous.

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I scored the top of the pork and cut into squares. Then got all my pots and pans ready for the mad cooking, frying, plating sessions.

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Then it was all at once; frying the pork squares both sides until golden, heating the Madeira sauce, frying the scampi tails in another skillet (just a couple of minutes) and re-heating the peas.

This is how it all came together –

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It was really fun plating it up!

The pork was melt in your mouth and PACKED with flavour. Having been slow-braised in the stock, then that same stock reduced to make the Madeira sauce, richly intensely flavourful, both meaty and sweet. I served the remainder of the sauce in a gravy boat and we used another whole serve each while we were eating it, it was that tasty.

The pork/scampi combo actually worked quite well because the scampi was strong enough flavoured to hold its own against the meat and the sweet sauce.

Given that most of it can be prepared ahead of schedule, you could easily do this dish for a dinner party.

High fives to Gordon all round!

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5 Comments

  1. Posted April 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi. Congratulations on a great blog for a very ambitious project. I am looking forward to following your progress. I’m sure you will hone your kitchen skills as you go along and have a good time too. I will pass your site on to my friend who lives in Melbourne; I know she will enjoy it. Good luck.

  2. Posted April 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    omg awesome blog dude! LOL at the macgyver attempt and the lineup of scampi was pretty cute =)

  3. Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    For my money, I’d go with prawn guts over prawn brain 😉

    This project looks like fun, good luck with it!

  4. Karen, NZ
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Well I’m in the process of making this right now for our mid winter Xmas party tonight. The pork was braised last night and by the time I flattened and cooled it it was about midnight! The stock is reducing as we speak and I have yet to boil away all the boozey goodness out of the maidera. Not sure if I’ll do the langoustine (scampi) as well, because another friend is also doing meat (she is doing poussin – small baby chicken things) and I thought it might be too rich. I only hope my turns out as stunning as yours looks! if it does I’ll be pleased! I wasn’t going to do the peas either as someone else is on veges, but it looks so beautiful plated out that I might just have to. Thanks for the confidence boost :o)
    K.

    • irritatinggordon
      Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Hi Karen, yeah it certainly is a time consuming dish but it is well worth it.
      Good luck tonight, please let me know how you go (and take some pics if your guests don’t think that’s too weird! haha).
      Louise


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  1. […] Everything else was simple and straightforward and I was thankful that I already had the expeno bottle of Madeira in my cupboard from cooking this other dish with Madeira Sauce. […]

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