Thursday, 25 July 2013

Salad of Crispy Pork Belly, Duck Egg and Roast Potato with Cider Dressing.

Maybe the least healthy salad ever!
I've had a nice piece of Pork Belly in my freezer for a while now and decided it was time to use it, but I didn't really have a dish in mind.  Then when I saw that there was a 'Summer Salad Recipe Challenge' being held by Foodies100 it started me thinking of how I could use my Pork Belly to enter the competition.

I've also been thinking a lot about alcohol lately (that's not unusual!) but specifically the different ways alcohol can be used in cooking.  Now, Raymond Blanc will tell you that it is important to boil away the alcohol in a separate pan before adding to a dish even if it is going to be heated again in the recipe.  This burns away the alcohol and mellows the flavour.  However, I recently saw Tom Kerridge on television finishing a sauce with a dash of 'raw' red wine.  Rules are there to be broken!

With this in mind I started to think about creating an alcoholic salad dressing, rock 'n' roll! Initially my thoughts were of a dressing made from a Fruit Beer, possibly with Cherries or Raspberries being  incorporated into the salad, but I thought that would maybe suit a Duck Salad better.  Next I came up with the obvious pairing of Pork and Apple but Apples are not in season.  However, the Apple train of thought got me to a Cider dressing using both Cider and Cider Vinegar.  Any excuse to buy a bottle of Cider!

The beauty of this dressing is you only need 3 Tbsp for the dish.
I couldn't possibly say what happened to the rest of it!
Now that I had decided on Pork Belly and Cider dressing I just had to decide what would make up the rest of the salad.  I absolutely love eggs in salads and they go wonderfully with salty pork so Duck eggs were added to the list for that touch of luxury (Hens or Quail Eggs would work beautifully as well).  Now I was thinking of ingredients I love to eat, enter the roast potato!  Few things beat a roast spud cooked in the roasting fat/juices, so small cubes of crispy potato were on the list.  Then I needed something to cut through the vast richness of this luxurious salad, other than the salad dressing, so I decided on Tomato for acidity and Baby Spinach and Peas Shoots for a touch of bitterness.  A salad is born!

Salad of Crispy Pork Belly,Duck Egg and Roast Potato with Cider Dressing

750g Pork Belly (Patted dry, Scored with a Stanley Knife and salted generously!)
3 Medium Potatoes
3 Duck Eggs
Tomatoes (I used San Marzano - 14 of them, yes I counted, bad blogging habit!)
Baby Spinach/Pea Shoots (25 Spinach leaves and...just kidding!)

For the Dressing:
3 Tbsp Cider
4 Tbsp Olive Oil (I would've used rapeseed if i'd had any!)
1 Tsp Cider Vinegar
Honey and Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to its highest setting.  Place Pork on a rack and roast until the crackling is well on its way, about 20 minutes for this piece.

Turn the oven down to 170C and roast until tender, about an hour and fifteen minutes.  It is very important to use good quality pork with a good amount of fat or this method will result in a dry and tough joint.  If you have time it is better to slow cook Pork Belly but I didn't have time!

While the Pork is cooking you can do all of the prep for the salad, there isn't much!  Dice your potatoes, no need to parboil as they are so small.

Chop your Tomatoes, that's a toughie!

Cook your Duck Eggs, place eggs in a saucepan.  Cover with recently boiled  water and cook just under boiling point for 10 minutes.  Cool immediately in cold water.

Drink all but 3 Tbsp of your Cider while your waiting!

With 20-25 minutes to go, add seasoned potatoes to the tray that the Pork is in.  Return to the oven, turning regularly until golden and crisp all over.  Toward the end of this time you can shell the eggs and chop to size.

Is there anything better than crackling in this world?!

Remove Pork and potatoes and rest whilst you make the dressing.  

It is important to make the dressing at the last minute as it thins quickly due to the ratio of liquid to oil.  Whisk together Cider, Cider Vinegar and Oil, squeeze in honey and season to taste.

Chop up Pork into cubes and then assemble the salad.  Dress Leaves in Cider Dressing (yes!) then add all ingredients except the eggs, mix.  Plate up and then add the eggs on top.  Serve and enjoy!

Mandy said it was "the best salad she's ever eaten, even better than the Goat's Cheese salad in Barcelona!"  That's high praise indeed considering we went to Barcelona in 2004 and she still talks about that salad!  Get in!  I'm still trying to impress her even after all these years!

Can you tell i'm rather pleased with myself?!

I can't recommend this salad enough!  It's rich, comforting, filling and alcoholic! Everyone's a winner! (except my little boy who had it sans dressing!)  The dressing is light and sharp enough to balance the richness of the Pork and makes it feel Summery!  Give this one a go, you won't be disappointed!



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