Right then. The seasons are definitely in transition and right now, many of you will be going through the dilemma of bringing one foot back into the kitchen, whilst keeping the other foot firmly planted by your BBQ in the garden.
At the risk of personal injury, you should probably reconsider overstretching yourself like that but have no fear, we have just the dish that will enable you to do both.
The first part relies on keeping the flames alive and setting up your trusty ol’ smoker to cook some pork belly long and slow, until it is supremely tender and succulent. This method is straight outta the Richard H. Turner bible of all things porcine by the way - namely HOG.
The second involves some careful steps overseeing wholesome pearl barley and autumnal vegetables in the form of Crown Prince squash and chestnut mushrooms. Adapted from a recipe featuring Gill Meller’s ‘Gather’ there is some argument that you could employ the BBQ to bring this earthy and nutty salad together. But best use your oven for this aspect.
Because if it does start raining whilst you are out there, you don’t want to pull anything or trip up whilst running back into the house.
The irony of falling over during ‘the fall’ would be too much to take.
Ingredients - serves 8
1kg boneless pork belly, skin removed (we can do this for you)
1tbs Dijon mustard
50g Spicy Pig Rub
300g banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
500ml chicken stock (or Master Pork Broth if you have HOG)
250g pearl barley
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2tbs rapeseed oil
1 large Crown Prince squash, cut into wedges, seeds removed
1 small bunch of sage leaves
6 rosemary sprigs
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated, skin on
400g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2-3 tbs crème fraîche
2tsp Dijon mustard
1tbs cider vinegar
1 large bunch of dill, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
First, evenly score the fat on the top of the pork belly and slice the pork belly down the middle - this makes for slightly quicker cooking and even portioning at the end. Brush both pieces with the Dijon mustard and cover with the Spicy Pig Rib.
Prepare your smoker of barbecue and set to 110°C. Place the shallots in a small baking tray and add the belly, fat side up. Add the chicken stock or Master Pork Broth to the baking tray and cook in the smoker for 4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 89°C. Remove the belly and set aside, keeping warm, and separate the rendered fat from the cooking juices and reserve the juices and shallots.
For the salad, heat your oven to 110°C. Place the pearl barley in a medium pan, cover with water and place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, until the pearl barley is tender, but still with a bite. Drain and dress with roughly tablespoons of the rendered pork fat, lemon juice and zest and a touch of salt. Set aside to cool.
Place the squash wedges onto a large roasting tray and scatter the sage, rosemary and garlic cloves and drizzle over the rapeseed oil, adding a generous seasoning of sea salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the squash becomes soft.
Take the roasting tray out and then scatter both the mushrooms and cooked shallots around the squash, mixing everything together carefully. Return uncovered back to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes until the mushrooms have cooked and everything has taken on a bit of colour.
To make the dressing, combine the sugar, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl and then stir in the crème fraîche and half the chopped dill and season to taste.
When ready to eat, add the pearl barley to the vegetables in the roasting tray, along with a tablespoon of the reserved juices. Scatter over the remaining dill and dressing. For the pork, simply carve into even slices and serve everything at the table.