I REMEMBER as clear as day sitting at my dining room table in early January, opening the cover of a new journal to begin writing my manifesto for ‘A Year Of Flavour’, and it’s hard to believe the year is already done.
- Toast the caraway seeds and white peppercorns in a dry pan until the pepper becomes aromatic.
- Take off the heat, place into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind the spices down.
- Place a saute pan over a medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter. Add ground spices to the melted butter, then add the swede to the pan. Stir everything together to coat in the fats and spices.
- Cover with a piece of parchment paper, clamp on the lid and leave to cook for 15 minutes.
- Uncover, give everything a stir, add half the water, cook for 10 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the water. When tender, place everything into a blender, add cream and blitz to a puree.
- Place the puree into a saucepan, and add 1tsp of sea salt. Stir through, reheat and serve with a knob of butter on top.
- Into a bowl, add butter, sage, apricots, garlic, fennel seeds, a generous pinch of sea salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Bring everything together using your hands to ensure the flavours are well dispersed throughout the butter.
- Lay the pork belly onto a piece of parchment. Score the skin diagonally taking care not to cut through to the meat. Turn the belly over, and paste the flavoured butter all over the meat.
- Roll the pork belly over so that the skin is on the outside. Using the twine, as best you can, tie the pork belly to secure into shape. It doesn’t have to look pretty, but it does need to be tight enough.
- Rub the skin over with sea salt – if you made the fennel salt earlier in the year, use that. Cover with the parchment and place in the fridge overnight.
- Next day, heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Prepare a roasting try for the pork belly by cutting the onion in half and into thick half-moon slices. Lay these down the centre of the roasting tray and lay then pork belly over the top.
- Place in the oven for 30 minutes and 200 degrees Celsius, then turn down the heat to 180 degrees and roast for a further two hours, finally turn the heat up to 225 degrees for 30 minutes to really get the crackling done good and proper.
- Remove from the oven, snip off and take off the butcher’s twine. Cut into slices – this is best done using a serrated bread knife to cut through the crackling. Serve with cranberry sauce, and all the trimmings!
- Place the pears in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to just cover them. Add the lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, rosemary and sugar, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the pears are softened.
- To make the caramel sauce; into a saucepan over a medium heat add sugar and gently heat until dissolved and begins to change colour. Then add the butter, sea salt, rosemary, and cream and stir well to combine and thicken. Add the Irish whiskey, stir through, remove the rosemary sprig and remove from heat.
- To serve, pour a generous amount of the caramel sauce into a bowl, top with a poached pear, and serve with a scoop of best quality vanilla ice cream.
You can catch up on the full Year of Flavour series here.