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Porchetta with cavolo nero and roasted butternut squash
Serves 8 people
4kg boneless pork belly
4 stems rosemary, washed
2 stems bay leaves, washed
2 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
1 dried red chilli, deseeded and crushed
4 tbsp sea salt
1kg butternut squash
500g cavolo nero
For the pork
Rub the pork belly with some kitchen towel so the skin is really dry. Using a Stanley knife with 1cm of the blade sticking out, start scoring the skin to 2cm intervals. The blade should go all the way in and cut the fat as well as the skin. Place the scored pork into a big tray.
In a bowl, mix the sea salt, crushed fennel seeds and chilli. Make sure they are well mixed then start rubbing the salt into each score mark on the pork belly. This takes about 5 minutes, and it’s important that the salt mixture gets into the fat. Turn over so that the skin is facing down in the tray. Rub any excess salt mix on the inside belly side.
Take the rosemary stems and place in the middle of the inside belly of the pork (meaty side). Bring the two sides together to form a round roll of pork belly. Take some string and start tying the pork up with individual knots 2cm apart. This might take a bit of time, but the end result will look really impressive if the pork belly is tied up nicely!
Place a cooling rack on top of the cut carrots, celery, onions and fennel bulb and bay leaves. Make sure the side where the belly meets is on the rack facing the vegetables. Add 500ml of water into the pan and cover with tin foil that has been rubbed with olive oil on the side that is touching the pork skin, this will stop it from sticking, so when you remove the foil, the skin will not come off. Make sure the tin foil is tight and secured on the edges of the pan because you are essentially steaming the pork belly.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at 160c for 3 hours. After 3 hours take the pork out of the oven and remove the tin foil. Place the pork back in the oven for a further 50 mins. Make sure the pork is on the bottom tray in the oven then turn on the grill element to full so the element goes red. Cook under the grill for 10 minutes so the crackling starts to pop and go crispy – you will have to turn the pork roll over, so it is evenly crisp. It’s important that you check it all the time as it can burn if you are not careful. When you’re happy with the crackling, take the pork out of the oven. Leave to cool down on the pan for 20 minutes. Place the pork on to a chopping board and do not cover.
Tip the excess fat from the roasting tin and add 250ml of boiling water to the roasting tin. Mix so all the bits around the pan are picked up, then pour the contents of the pan into a small saucepan and bring to the simmer. Reduce by half, then pass the juice through a fine sieve and into another small pan. Skim off any excess fat and check the seasoning. Keep to one side.
For the squash
Cut up a butternut squash into 2cm pieces – they can be rough and not uniform as long as they are a similar size. Toss in a bowl with some olive oil, salt pepper and the chopped thyme. Place into a roasting pan and place in the oven with the pork for 40 minutes. Check by putting a sharp knife through the tin foil into the squash – if there is no resistance, take off the tin foil and place back in the oven for 15 minutes or until the squash has gone lightly golden. If there is resistance, keep cooking until you can put a knife through the squash, then take the foil off and cook until golden.
For the cavolo nero
In a pan of boiling salted water, add the cavolo nero leaves and cook until tender, remove from the pan drain, chop roughly. In a hot saucepan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 clove of finely sliced garlic – do not colour. Add the chopped cavolo nero and cook for 5 minutes, then check the seasoning.
Slice the porchetta and service with the squash and cavolo nero.