DAVID WOODS: Crackling good dish makes festive entertaining easy

Confit of pork belly with crushed potatoes and wild mushrooms
Confit of pork belly with crushed potatoes and wild mushrooms

If turkey just doesn’t tickle your fancy this Christmas then try pork belly, says David Woods, executive head chef at the Sofitel London Gatwick...

The most popular dish on La Brasserie’s menu is the pork belly.

David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel

David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel

We have regular customers who come back just because of it and I would be lynched if I ever took it off the menu.

If you’re not a fan of turkey, then this is guaranteed to make your mouth water. It is also perfect for easy festive entertaining any time over Christmas as the confit of pork belly can be made at least three days in advance.

Go for the best ingredients possible – my first choice is Gloucester Old Spot pork as it has a more intense flavour and a beautiful balance of meat and fat. And the crackling is to die for!

Alternatively, a good outdoor bred pork will do just fine. Just choose a belly that has a good level of fat.

Any leftover pork will go perfect in a doorstep Bloomer loaf sandwich with a generous layer of onion chutney. And it is definitely a hot contender to go with Boxing Day bubble and squeak.”

La Brasserie, Sofitel’s 2 AA rosette restaurant, and its Urban Cafe have a new look and a new menu.

To book a table call 01293 567070 or email SLG@sofitelgatwick.com. Follow us on Twitter @SofitelLondonGA. Like us on Facebook Sofitel London Gatwick. Share your Christmas recipes with us on Instagram by tagging @SofitelLondonGA.

Confit of Pork Belly with crushed potatoes and wild mushrooms

Serves 4

1kg of pork belly, boneless

Good pinch of sea salt

Sprig of thyme

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Vegetable oil, or pork dripping if you can(enough to just cover the pork belly when cooking in the oven)

1 teaspoon caster sugar

Knob of butter, melted

For the potatoes:

500 g waxy potatoes (Charlotte) skin on

100g wild mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 banana shallot, diced

Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme

Splash of Calvados or pear liqueur and your favourite gravy to serve

Method

Sprinkle the pork belly with sea salt, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. Wash off the excess salt and pat dry.

Place in a small roasting dish, skin side down, and sprinkle over the garlic. Add the sprig of thyme and pour over the vegetable oil until it just covers the pork. Place in a preheated oven, 120oC, for five hours. Until tender.

Leave to cool in the oil and store in the fridge in its original cooking dish, still covered with the fat, until ready to use. It will keep for 3-4 days.

To make crispy crackling, cut the skin off the pork belly and cut into thin strips.

Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprinkle with salt. Place a piece of parchment on top and lay a baking tray on top of that to keep the crackling flat. Bake in a preheated oven, 180oc, for 30 minutes until crisp.

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks and boil in salted water until tender. Drain.

In a frying pan, sauté the shallot and thyme leaves with the mushrooms and potatoes until the vegetables are tender and the potatoes have started to turn golden. Crush roughly with the back of a spoon. Keep warm.

Remove the pork belly from the oil. Cut into rectangles. Dust with sugar and brush with a little melted butter. Place on a baking sheet and cook in a preheated oven, 180oc, for about 10 minutes or until the core temperature reaches 82oC.

When you are ready to serve, divide the potato and mushroom mix into four portions and press each one into a pastry cutter. Push out the potato mix onto warmed plates so that you have a neat ring of vegetables. Add the pork belly and shards of crackling. Stir a splash of Calvados or pear liqueur into your favourite gravy and serve with the pork dish.

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