When we lived in France one of our favourite easy meals was confit of duck legs with a pile of garlicy sautes and a big green salad. You would find ready prepared confit in every market, either vacuum packed or in jars, or in an emergency in tins from the supermarket where they would invariably be on special offer. Now we are back in Somerset this is not a treat I can get hold of easily but I have found that if I slow roast duck legs for a couple of hours the resulting meat is almost as meltingly tender as confit and the skin is as crisp as shattered glass. Duck legs tend to be much cheaper than breast and to my mind have a better flavour and are much more forgiving to cook. Teamed with a pile of spiced red cabbage, which incidentally can be made a day ahead if this suits you, this makes a perfect weekend supper to share with friends.
Of all the cuts of pork to choose from I have to say that belly is my all-time favourite. I know it’s a fatty cut but if you roast it slowly much of the fat melts away leaving a fabulously juicy and flavoursome meat. Choosing very lean cuts can be a disappointment as fat means flavour every time. This week I picked up my meat and veggies from our local Food Assembly which is always a pleasure. Not only do I know that the produce is grown and reared locally but I also get to meet the producers and get a few tips from them. Bill the Butcher recommended that I unwrap the belly 24 hours before cooking it to give the skin plenty of time to dry out to ensure good crackling. Finishing off this slow cooked piece of pork on the Barbie gives you the most delicious crunchy crackling. The pork can be oven roasted several hours ahead, cooled, then chilled. Bring it back to room temperature for half an hour before cooking it on the Barbie.
Crackling 5 spice pork
2-21/2kg piece belly pork
4 tsp five spice powder
sea salt and pepper
1 Heat the oven to 160C/140fan/Gas 3. Put the pork in a roasting tin and rub all over with the five spice powder, sea salt and pepper. Cook for 21/2-3hours, until the pork is very tender.
2 Have the barbecue ready with the coals not too hot(wait for them to turn grey with no flames) Put the pork on the barbecue skin side down and cook until the skin crackles, about 15-20 mins. Turn it over and cook on the other side for the same time. Spray the coals with a little water if they start to flare. Transfer the pork to a board and cover tightly with foil. Leave to rest for 15 mins, then cut into thick slices to serve.