Roast Pork and some Hot Chocolate

My mum’s previous few attempts to roast pork belly weren’t really successful, cause the skin was never as crispy as we would like it to be. After reading up on ways to get a good crackling, I decided to give it a try and cook that for dinner! So what we had was: Roast Pork with Balsamic reduction and Roasted Apples.

I combined Chubby Hubby’s method of roasting pork but not his marinade because I was looking for a more western taste. I just scored the skin of the pork, massaged it with some salt, and dried it in the refrigerator overnight.

After roasting for a good ol’ two over hours, I got this amazing browned and crackly-skinned-looking pieces of pork belly! I think my oven’s rather (actually more like very) lousy cause the front and back few pieces of pork were nicely crisped, while the middle ones were just….ehhhh. So I had to redo them, and that caused caused the roasted apples to only be ready halfway through the meal pfft! At least I was able to make the balsamic reduction while the apples were roasting!

Okok that was a failed attempt at fanciful plating >.< the empty section was supposed to be filled with a row of apples, which were sadly NOT READY thanks to my not-so-pro oven. I feel compelled to say that I still love my oven though! 😀 haha my family liked the balsamic reduction, and were basically dipping every mouthful of pork in the sauce!

Compared to my mum’s roast pork, mine’s fattier 😦 but softer and has more of that melt-in-your-mouth feel thanks to the fats. It’s still darn lean though cause I refused to let it cook in its own fat! I’m guessing that some of the fats are retained because I used Chubby Hubby’s roasting method for the first 20 minutes. His method called for filling a roasting pan a third to half with water, then roasting the pork above this pan of water. I believe this helps to partially steam the the pork from the bottom, thus keeping in some of the moisture (and fats) throughout the roasting process. I removed the pan after the first 20 minutes hoping that the excess fats can dribble out xD

And so I ended up with something like that. Moist, soft, with a very thin layer of fats trapped in the middle, smack right between the meat. I kinda like it that way? But I’d probably ‘steam’ it for a shorter time next round to enable more fats to bubble out. I also found that the skin was crispy enough. Wonder if that’s because of the steaming…

After all that greasy stuff, we decided that it was time for desserts hohoho! 😀 haha luckily we had some Darcis macarons left from our previous visit to Marina Bay Sands few days ago! So I made some Hot Chocolate to go with those macarons (:

The Hot Chocolate was simply devine: rich, yet not too sweet. Yums 😀

Roast loin of pork (serves 4)
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

1.3kg pork loin (belly in my case)

1. Heat oven to 240C. Lightly oil roasting tin and put it in the oven to get hot. Season the skin of the pork with sea salt, then put on hot tin and roast for 20 minutes.

2. Reduce the temperature to 190C and roast for a further 30 minutes per 500g of pork. Increase to 240C for a final 10 minutes to get a crisp skin.

Crispy roast pork belly 
Recipe from Chubby Hubby’s Siu Yuk

Pork
1.5-2 kilo piece of pork belly, with skin on
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Marinade
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 big cubes of fermented bean curd, white or red
(or 1 tbsp of tauchu, i.e. preserved soybean paste)
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp chopped garlic

1. Wash your piece of pork belly really well, tweezing away any hairs on the skin. Pat it dry. Poke a great multitude of holes in the skin using a sharp cake tester or other kind of needle you might have in the kitchen. Lay the pork in a deep roasting pan, preferably on a rack in the pan. Get a big bowl of ice ready and set it aside on your counter. Boil some water–maybe a litre or so. Pour the boiling water over the skin of the pork. You want to blanch it. Then quickly remove the pork from the hot water and immerse it or cover it with the ice. After it cools down, pat it dry. Place the pork on a rack and pop in your fridge until it has properly dried out.

2. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together. If using the fermented bean curd in cubes, mash it into the marinade. Take your piggy out of the fridge and invert it, skin side down. Using a paring knife, make either lots of small incisions into the flesh, or score it, whichever you prefer. Spread the marinade into the flesh and rub it in thoroughly. Pretend your giving that special someone a massage. Don’t let the marinade get on the skin though. Flip the piggy back skin side up on the rack and pop it back into the fridge. Let it marinate overnight.

3. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 220C. Place the pork on a rack set over a roasting pan that is filled up between a third to half with water. Pop the pork in the oven for 20 minutes. After that lower the heat to 180C and roast for another 40 minutes. If the pan needs more water, please add some during the roasting process. After 40 minutes, take the pork out, turn the heat up to 250C, or however high your oven goes. Brush the rice wine vinegar over the top of your pork. Then pop it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so, until the top skin layer has bubbled up and looks all puffy, crispy and actually even a little charred. You want the whole top to be nice and crisp. If you want, you can even experiment using the grill function on your oven.

4. When ready, take it out and let it cool on a rack. If charred, use a serrated knife to “brush” off the charred bits. It’s actually very easy to do and you’ll be left with a lovely reddish-brown skin. When cool enough to eat, chop it up with a cleaver and serve to your very impressed friends.

Roasted apples
Recipe adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Roasted Apples with Balsamic Drizzle

Apples (any amount)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Spray a ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray.

3. Core the apples, and cut them into fairly large chunks, leaving the peel on. (If the fruit is peeled, it tends to fall apart.)

4. Place the chunks either peel side-down or on their sides in the baking dish. Spacing is unimportant, since the fruit shrinks as it roasts. Just make sure the pieces are in a single layer. Put the dish into the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the apples are done just the way you like them. This is a very subjective process.

5. When the fruit feels tender to the touch (or a fork slides easily into the flesh) remove the dish from the oven, and transfer the apples to a plate or a platter with a rim.

Balsamic Reduction (makes 1/3 cups)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Place in shallow saucepan and heat to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until reduced by 1/3. It is important to keep the fire as low as possible to get a better tasting sauce.

Hot Chocolate (makes 4-6 cups)
Recipe from David Lebovitz’s book: The Sweet Life In Paris

2 cups (500ml) whole or low-fat milk (I used non-fat)
140g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Pinch of coarse salt

1. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, chocolate, and salt. Heat until it begins to boil.

2. Lower the heat to the barest simmer and cook the mixture, whisking frequently, for 3 minutes. If you want a thicker consistency, cook it another 1-2 minutes.

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