Bridge of Orchy Hotel
David Hetherington is the recently appointed head chef at The Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll where he is leading the hotel in its mission to serve up the best in local Scottish Highland produce. He is known for his eye-catching dishes with bold flavours created using local, seasonal Scottish ingredients. Last year he was crowned ‘Provenance Chef of the Year’ by the Scottish Food Awards and Academy.
Wherever possible we source locally and I’m delighted to be able to serve this dish now at the hotel using rare breed pork from Duntarrin Farm just south of Oban where Katherine MacDonald rears large Saddleback white cross pigs.
My top tips for buying pork belly are to buy local, support the artisan producers that care and love the animals, or go to your local butcher and order – for this recipe – a skin off-centre cut pork belly. Try and get a piece with the distinct layers of thick ribbons of silky fat and firm pink flesh.
When braising the belly make sure to put parchment over the belly first to prevent the foil from sticking to the pork. Allow to cool completely before cutting and most importantly, chill the cooking liquor before reducing, the fat will rise to the top and it will be easy to lift off as pork is a very fatty cut.
Pork Belly with Bacon jam and Crackling
For the pork belly:
- 1kg pork belly, skin off
- 1 pint Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted beer
- 500ml apple juice
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig thyme, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
For the bacon jam:
- 250g rindless bacon, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250g dark brown sugar
- 2 shots of espresso
- 1 large white onion, finely diced
- 150ml red wine vinegar
- 100g maple syrup
For the crackling:
- Pork skin
For the sweet potato puree:
- 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled
- 50g maple syrup
- 150g unsalted butter
- Start by making the bacon jam. Add all of the ingredients to a heavy based pot and cook on a low heat until the mixture becomes thick with a sticky jam-like consistency. Pour into a food processor and pulse until it reaches your preferred texture. Smooth with a few chunky bits works best for this dish. Pour into a jar and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Next, prepare the pork belly. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the pork in a deep oven tray and cover with the beer and apple juice. Add the carrot, thyme, garlic and onion to the tray. Cover with parchment paper and tinfoil and cook in the pre-heated oven for three hours. Remove the pork from the oven and tray and place on a clean tray, reserving the cooking liquor from the previous tray. Place another clean tray on top of the pork and using a heavy weight, press the pork belly overnight in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, chill the cooking liquor to separate the juices and fat.
- Once the belly is cold and firm, cut into portions.
- To make the sweet potato puree, chop the sweet potato into small equal sized pieces and boil in salted water until soft and tender then drain and puree with butter and maple syrup until smooth and shiny. Season to taste.
- Finally prepare the crackling. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place the skin on a tray, drizzle with oil and season with the salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cook the crackling in the pre- heated oven for 20 minutes or until crispy.
- Remove the fat from the chilled cooking liquor from the pork and add to a pan. Heat and reduce the liquid by 2/3 to create the sauce.
- To serve, warm the pork belly in reduced cooking juices, continually basting until it Is hot, thick and sticky. Warm the sweet potato puree and make sure the bacon jam is at room temperature. Arrange the elements on the plate, snap the crackling into shards and serve.
Keep up to date with the Bridge of Orchy Hotel by following @bridgeoforchyhotel or @chef_hetherington on Instagram.
For bookings and reservations, call 01838 400 208 or visit www.bridgeoforchy.co.uk