Thursday, 31 March 2011

let's get to the meat: panch phoran pork belly

I'm going to keep this short. Yes, I am. This post is all about the meat. Because, in this case, the meat - courtesy of the recipe - was so bloody good, you really need to skip my verbiage and get on and make it yourself.

In short, it's pork belly, confited and infused with a wonderful blend of subcontinental flavours - cumin, fenugreek, mustard, fennel, and kalonji seeds - that makes up panch phoran. And then roasted. Your home will be filled with splendid aromas for hours, and you'll want to make it again as soon as you've finished eating it, if not sooner.

I made this over 2 afternoons when I was short on hover-over-the-stove time. Hence the lack of photos at every stage. But I hope you'll get the idea.

First, confit your slab of pork belly along with a tablespoon of panch phoran rubbed into the skin. (It should take about 3 hours.) The original recipe suggests grinding the spices first; I opted for the more jewel-like effect of keeping them whole. Then, do a cheffy thing of flattening a bit and leaving it in the fridge overnight weighed down by tins or any other suitably heavy objects. Like this:

panch phoran pork belly 1

The next day, remove the tins and your pork should look something like this:

panch phoran pork belly 2

Pretty, innit?

Without further ado, whack your oven up to 220C. Surround the belly with the best red grapes you can get hold of...

panch phoran pork belly 3

... plus the odd piece of star anise if you've got it, and slam the lot in for 20-25 minutes until the pork skin has become crispy, and the grapes have turned, well, squashy. It probably won't be much of a looker*, particularly if you have a patchy oven like I do, with unpredictable hotspots, but don't be deterred. It WILL taste sublime.

panch phoran pork belly 4

Leave it to cool just a tad before you tuck in, otherwise you'll burn your mouth in the attempt to shove in as much of this porky wonder as possible. Serve with rice and whatever else you fancy - I suggest something green and zingy...

panch phoran pork belly 5

... in this case, purple sprouting broccoli quickly stir-fried with a ginger and garlic paste and some red chilli flakes. Perfect for the job. And then eat. Complete silence reigned while we ate ours. Never has so much pork been devoured in so short a time by so few. You have been warned. This stuff is seriously addictive.

* I defer to the author of the original recipe on this. His most definitely is a looker (as is his entire blog - well worth following, IMHO). There's no way mine was ever going to look like that, not least because I was far too preoccupied with how quickly I could get it in my mouth rather than how beautiful I could make it look. It's all about priorities.


Fiona Beckett said...

Fantastic. You can never have too many recipes for pork belly.

Uncle Ji said...

Oh that looks SO good! I love panch phora and mix up a jar full to use with vegetables- I just heat oil, chuck in a teaspoon of the whole spices and then add the greens. Fry for a bit then add salt and lemon juice. Its ace! Have never tried with pork though and I LOVE pork, so will do! Thanks :) x

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

nice work my friend... very good... so hungry now and it's not lunchtime for a good hour!

Kavey said...

This looks absolutely FANTASTIC!!!!

Su-Lin said...

I want me a slice of that!

The Viking said...


You're right, that *is* right up my street. I had planned pork for this Sunday... I think I might have to take a cue from you!

Josordoni said...

it looks really good.. maybe I will move away from my beloved slow cooked pork and try this!

I have never used panch phora - what else would you use it with?

The Caked Crusader said...

you had me at "pork belly"

Helen said...

OH. EM. GEE!!!! Yeah, looks quite nice.

Cakelaw said...

'Ghetti, you are makingme hungry even though I have just had dinner. I adorte pork belly and have recently discovered the joys of cooking with grapes - this looks amazing.

Foodycat said...

I love the combination of the Indian spices and the grapes (which I think of as Italian). That is a really amazing looking piece of pork too - you must have a good butcher.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Fiona - I like your thinking. This is especially moreish, though.

Ji - with pork, it's just so much better ;)

Dom - sorrreeee...

Kavey - it is, it is!

Su-Lin - sorry, all gone!

The Viking - you can do it!

Josordoni - see Uncle Ji's suggestion, above. Or - anything that you think would benefit from an aniseedy twang

Cakey - ;)

Helen - quite nice? QUITE nice??

Cakelaw - the grapes were a revelation to me. Will definitely be using again

Foodycat - thank you. And yes, I'm particularly lucky in that I have 2 ace butchers

Heather said...

Seriously, *this* is what to do with pork belly. Why must everyone cut it into those insipid little cubes? Or bacon? This is glorious.

Sarah said...

I make pork chops with a grape sauce that are wonderful, but I never thought of roasting them with pork belly. Sounds absolutely lovely!

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

This is something I have never tried therefore I found this post very interesting!

Going With My Gut said...

Oh. Man. Must. Try. Immediately...


gastrogeek said...

what an excellent post- great to see the classic Bengali spice mix used in such an original way.

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