I must confess, when Brownes Dairy announced they were looking for a blogger to milk social media town, being the daughter of a milkman where back in the dark ages at just 12, I found myself delivering milk at 3.30 am and always looking for interesting ways to use up left over milk, I was pretty sure this gig had my name on it.
Add to that my social media skills aka addiction and my love of blogging, there was no way I wasn’t going to audition for this great opportunity.
I stopped short of taking a selfie with what has become my signature dish but that has more to do with the vultures (aka my food loving little family) descending the minute this dish hit the table. It really is that mouth wateringly good, I’m lucky I managed to obtain any photos at all.
Without further ado, my Brownes Blogger Audition (original posted to the Brownes Facebook page here)…. The perfect go to recipe when you are looking to impress on a budget, with no actual domestic goddess skills required and just five minutes preparation time with two hours sitting around drooling and trying to distract yourself while this pretty much cooks itself.
Crispy Skin Pork Belly
(original recipe here)
We are not big meat eaters in our family but when we do indulge we like to go all out. One of our favourite recipes is Crispy Skin Pork Belly, it’s an adaption of an Annabel Langbein (The free range cook) recipe.
Half the fun of this recipe is sourcing the ingredients and to get the recipe even remotely right as far as my little family of food critics are concerned, it involves a trek down to The Boatshed in Cottesloe where for a similar price to the supermarkets you are getting a top quality Berkshire Pork Belly which they cut and score for you on the spot.
A 1.2 kg piece of pork for around $20 easily feeds our family of five (two adults, three children) with leftovers. The crackling factor on this recipe is amazing. The recipe calls for not just salt but lemon juice to get the crackling underway but I’ve tried it with and without the lemon juice with similar results.
The preparation needed for this dish is minimal and takes just five minutes, the meat does take two hours all up to cook. 30 minutes on a high heat to achieve the best crackling you have ever tasted and 1 ½ hours poaching the meat in milk.
Depending on what you decide to serve this with, this is generally a one or two dish meal and super easy to clean up. There is a bit of wastage with the milk that is used to poach the pork but the meat is super tender and melt in your mouth, so for me, it’s more than worth it.
We tend to serve this with a super quick and cheap microwave poached apple sauce and a tray of seasoned baked vegetables that join the pork in the oven about half way through. If you are using in season veggies, this meal can easily come in under $35 for a family of five with leftovers.
This is a real family favourite that always ranks highly and is at the top of the list for birthdays or when we are entertaining friends. A super easy dish with a lot of the wow factor to impress even the toughest critics, which in this case are usually my three girls, who always go in search of crispy pork belly when we have a rare evening out only to be disappointed when it’s not as melt in the mouth as our tried and tested home recipe.
Tips & Variations
Ask your butcher to score your pork for you.
A better quality and thicker pork belly really does make a difference to the end result as does using full cream milk, we usually use Brownes.
You really need to crank the heat up in the first 30 minutes to get the crackling crispy. It could be our oven but following the recipe which suggests 240 degrees, doesn’t seem to achieve the desired results for us. Depending on your oven I suggest a minimum of 250 degrees.
The smash factor! It’s important you don’t use a glass baking dish as you run the risk of it shattering when you add the milk. Just ask my mother-in-law. I normally follow an approach of photos or it didn’t happen but in this case and as it happened in my kitchen under my mother in laws watch and I’m still 12 months later cleaning up glass fragments, I’d like to believe this didn’t really happen.
Don’t be alarmed! We tend to set the smoke alarm off each time we make this. Actually if the smoke alarm doesn’t cause a heap of chaos, it generally means our crackling isn’t going to be super crunchy.
This recipe really does involve the entire family. We tend to have two of our three girls positioned on smoke alarms, at either end of the house, with a broom fanning the alarms. With our third child opening all the windows and doors.
This time round, we struggled to find Sage, which the pork is placed on in the baking dish, so we opted to make this dish without it. It does add to the flavour of the dish but it also works just as well without it.
You can also poach the pork in wine or cider but we just love the results from full cream milk and haven’t tried either of these options.
A hard act to follow
This really is a hard act to follow, but as this meal tends to come out for special occasions (although for the life of me I’m not sure why we don’t make this more often) I tend to opt for a special occasion dessert. For us that’s my pineapple bread and butter pudding served with homemade custard both made using Brownes full cream milk and served with a dollop of Brownes fresh cream or a little something special from Littlesweet Baking. Those recipes and much more, hopefully coming soon.
I’m thinking my chances are pretty slim at winning the Brownes Blogger gig but I would like to bring more from the Keeping it Real Case Kitchen to the blog in 2015. What do you think?
Do you have a favourite family meal? What would you serve with Crispy Skin Pork Belly?