March 29th, 2012
I had dinner at Amaia’s house last week – she roasted an amazing Pork Belly
Sprats are very simple to prepare – they just need a wash and a coating of seasoned flour. It’s not necessary to gut these little fish, though you can if you wish.
I fry them in very hot olive oil (it’s ready when it starts to smoke) – woks are quite convenient for this type of deep frying. You can cook as many at a time, as you can get into the pan. Do make sure they are all immersed in the oil.
These fish cook in a couple of minutes – if in doubt, cut one open and have a look to see if it’s done all the way through. I eat the whole fish, with a sprinkle of seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lemon. The bones are very soft and you can eat the head – cut it off if you don’t fancy it.
Amaia marinated the meat side of the Pork Belly in an olive oil and herb mixture (I believe she blended a whole head of peeled garlic with rosemary, thyme and oil) and let the underside sit in the marinade overnight. She roasted the pork, in the marinade (being careful not to get it on the crackling side), initially at a high temperature, to enable the skin to blister, before turning the oven down to about 175º C for a couple of hours. The pork had a wonderful herb and garlic flavour!
Continuing the hot theme we had a beautiful home made chilli jelly condiment. I don’t have the recipe for this, but a web search brought up a few ideas:
followed by a green salad with radishes.
We finished the dinner with a cheese course.
I’d been at the Islington Farmers’ Market in the morning and found the Green’s of Glastonbury cheese stall. Their unpasteurised cheddar is outstanding with a delicious tang. All their cheeses looks quite plain, but I urge you to try them if you come across their market stall – looks can be deceptive and this is serious cheese that demands respect! I was quite blown away by the cheddar when I first tried it (at a previous dinner party, I discovered that it goes very well with Compté). I believe Waitrose stock some of Green’s cheeses.
I bought a couple of goats cheeses from the Nut Knowle Farm stall. The Wealden (middle upper right), a strong and spicy crottin type cheese has a sharpness which reminded me a little of Cabrales from Asturias in Spain.
…and the Wealdway mature log (above right), coated in charcoal with a white felt, has a strong, mature flavour .